Saskatchew­an flag de­signer re­turn­ing for 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - CLASSIFIED­S - By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

The de­signer of the Saskatchew­an flag will be vis­it­ing the prov­ince in July to at­tend a num­ber of 50th an­niver­sary events that are ar­ranged by Hodgeville res­i­dent Gail Ha­panow­icz.

An­thony Drake and his wife Joan will be ar­riv­ing from Eng­land on July 3, and they will be hosted by Ha­panow­icz un­til July 22.

Drake was a 27-year-old high school teacher in Hodgevil­lle in 1969 when a flag se­lec­tion com­mit­tee picked his de­sign from 4,025 en­tries. Due to cir­cum­stances he re­turned to his na­tive Eng­land be­fore the of­fi­cial un­veil­ing of the new provin­cial flag dur­ing that year.

He saw the rais­ing of this flag for the first time in 2016 dur­ing a 21-day visit to the prov­ince that was also ar­ranged by Ha­panow­icz.

She and hus­band Mirek own the Hodgeville Skool Inn & Hub, the for­mer high school where Drake was a teacher 50 years ago.

She has be­come pas­sion­ate about pro­mot­ing the Saskatchew­an flag af­ter learn­ing more about its his­tory and the flag’s con­nec­tion to Hodgeville.

“There’s not a lot of flags in Canada that were de­signed by just reg­u­lar peo­ple, and there’s only two that ever had a con­test,” she said. “One was 250 en­tries, which was Nu­navut, and then ours.”

She is ex­cited to host Drake for a sec­ond time dur­ing the flag’s 50th an­niver­sary year, and she wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent for this visit.

Drake vis­ited nu­mer­ous com­mu­ni­ties around south­west Saskatchew­an in 2016, where he spoke about the flag and met with peo­ple. He also had meet­ings with Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Vaughn Solomon Schofield and Premier Brad Wall dur­ing a trip to Regina.

For this trip Ha­panow­icz de­cided to con­tact a provin­cial icon, the Saskatchew­an Roughrid­ers, and as a re­sult Drake will be a VIP guest at the team’s July 6 game against the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers.

“They’re go­ing to put the flag on the jum­botron and then they’re go­ing to talk about him, and then they’re go­ing to pan over to where we’re sit­ting,” Ha­panow­icz said. “So we’re go­ing to do that in front of 33,000 peo­ple.”

Drake will also be a spe­cial guest at the Cana­dian Forces Snow­birds air show in Moose Jaw on July 7. The Bent­ley re­tire­ment res­i­dence in Swift Cur­rent will host Drake on July 11, which will in­clude a brunch with res­i­dents and a for­mal pro­gram and lunch. He will be a dig­ni­tary at the Shau­navon Boom­town Days and Stam­pede, where he will par­tic­i­pate in the pa­rade.

He will be meet­ing the may­ors of Moose Jaw and Swift Cur­rent, and Ha­panow­icz is also ar­rang­ing a meet­ing with Regina’s Josh Miller, bet­ter known as the Bearded Prairie Chef, who placed third on the Mas­ter Chef Canada show.

She is still ar­rang­ing a date for a meet­ing with Premier Scott Moe and there will be a tea hosted by Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Thomas Mol­loy. Ha­panow­icz is hop­ing that Percy Sch­meiser, the only sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the flag com­mit­tee that se­lected Drake’s de­sign as the new provin­cial flag, will be able to at­tend the tea. It will be a his­toric mo­ment, be­cause it will be the first time the two men will meet.

Ha­panow­icz was able to track down Sch­meiser af­ter she looked at an old news­pa­per clip­ping that Drake has saved since 1969. It shows the mem­bers of the flag se­lec­tion com­mit­tee around a large ta­ble dur­ing their first meet­ing and she started a re­search process to find any sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the group.

“This is a piece of his­tory, when you can have the only liv­ing per­son who chose the de­sign and the per­son who de­signed the flag,” she said. “That’s amaz­ing. So it’s pretty ex­cit­ing.”

Ha­panow­icz is still hop­ing that Drake will re­ceive of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion in his home coun­try for de­sign­ing the Saskatchew­an flag. In Oc­to­ber 2018 she wrote a let­ter to Queen El­iz­a­beth II to re­quest an of­fi­cial hon­our for Drake.

“I wanted her to rec­og­nize him in any way that she feels fit to hon­our An­thony Drake, her con­stituent, for de­sign­ing a flag for a Com­mon­wealth coun­try’s prov­ince,” she said.

She was ex­cited to re­ceive an of­fi­cial re­sponse from Buck­ing­ham Place in March, in which she is thanked for her let­ter and her ef­forts to pay trib­ute to Drake.

“Her Majesty was most touched to know of the ef­forts you have taken to find Mr. Drake and em­brace his achieve­ment again af­ter all these years, and thought it kind of you to wish to share this re­mark­able story with her,” the Royal let­ter stated.

Ha­panow­icz con­tin­ues with other ef­forts to pro­mote the Saskatchew­an flag. She will com­mem­o­rate the 50th an­niver­sary of the Saskatchew­an flag with a time cap­sule that will be opened in 2029.

She started the Stand be­hind the Flag ini­tia­tive when Drake was here in 2016. She is try­ing to take as many pho­tos as pos­si­ble of peo­ple stand­ing with the flag. She is also ask­ing peo­ple to take their own pho­tos and to share their im­ages on her Face­book page Home of the Saskatchew­an Flag Foun­da­tion (@ Saskatchew­an­flag).

Above left: Gail Ha­panow­icz has framed the of­fi­cial let­ter writ­ten to her from Buck­ing­ham Palace. Above right: Gail Ha­panow­icz speaks about the up­com­ing visit of the Saskatchew­an flag de­signer, An­thony Drake, at Tourism Swift Cur­rent's 9th an­nual 49° x 110° Spring Con­fer­ence, May 3.

Pho­tos by Matthew Lieben­berg

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