Retired RCAF Colours to be entrusted to guardianship of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Military staff march with the Queen's Colour and the Air Command Colour.
The retired Air Command Colours are paraded for the last time on September 1, 2017, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. The retired Colours will be entrusted to the guardianship of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team on February 10, 2018, at the Air Canada Centre. The Queen’s Colour (left) is carried by Captain Emily Nissen and the Air Command Colour is carried by Captain Louis Martel. Both are from 402 Squadron, Winnipeg. Photo: Sergeant Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall

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From Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force

On September 1, 2017, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was proud to receive a new stand of Colours from the hands of the Governor General at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.

I am pleased to tell you that our former Colours, originally presented to us in 1982 and reflecting our organization and identity as Air Command, will have a new home at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in Toronto, under the guardianship of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Colours will be entrusted to the Maple Leafs at approximately 7:10 p.m. on February 10, 2018, immediately before a Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators at the ACC. At the end of February, they will be unveiled in a new, specially built display at Gate 6 of the ACC where they will be visible to the public from both the interior and exterior of the building.

The RCAF has a long and proud relationship with the city of Toronto. Canadian military aviation began in Toronto 101 years ago when the Royal Flying Corps Canada was established in Toronto and the surrounding area to recruit and train Canadian aircrew for service overseas during the First World War.

Our relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs is even more personal. Wing Commander William George Barker, a First World War Ace and Canada’s most highly decorated war hero, was appointed as president of the Maple Leafs’ hockey club in 1927 by its manager, Constantine Falkland Cary (Conn) Smythe who was seconded from the Army to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 to fly as an observer. When Wing Commander Barker died in 1930, his funeral procession was the largest public event Toronto had ever seen, with a 2,000-man guard of honour and more than 50,000 spectators. He is interred in his wife’s family crypt in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleum in Toronto where a monument was raised to his memory in 2011.

Given this unique history, the ACC is a fitting location for our retired Colours and the Maple Leafs are well-suited to be their guardian.

I invite you to watch the historic passing of our former Colours to the custody of the Maple Leafs on February 10, and take the opportunity to see the laid up Colours at the ACC when you are in Toronto.

Image gallery


  • The retired Air Command Colours are paraded for the last time on September 1, 2017, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. The retired Colours will be entrusted to the guardianship of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team on February 10, 2018, at the Air Canada Centre. The Queen’s Colour (left) is carried by Captain Emily Nissen and the Air Command Colour is carried by Captain Louis Martel. Both are from 402 Squadron, Winnipeg. Photo: Sergeant Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall
    The retired Air Command Colours are paraded for the last time on September 1, 2017, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. The retired Colours will be entrusted to the guardianship of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team on February 10, 2018, at the Air Canada Centre. The Queen’s Colour (left) is carried by Captain Emily Nissen and the Air Command Colour is carried by Captain Louis Martel. Both are from 402 Squadron, Winnipeg. Photo: Sergeant Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall

  • Following the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Air Force received its second stand of Colours, reflecting its identity as Air Command, on July 31, 1982, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here, Governor General Ed Schreyer presents the Queen’s Colour.
    Following the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Air Force received its second stand of Colours, reflecting its identity as Air Command, on July 31, 1982, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here, Governor General Ed Schreyer presents the Queen’s Colour.

  • In this First World War photo, Lieutenant Conn Smythe wears a Canadian Army uniform. In May 1917, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as an artillery observer and appointed to the rank of flying officer. He encountered Captain William Barker at 53 Squadron, a training unit in Narborough, England, where Barker was working as a flying instructor. In October 1917, Smythe was shot down and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner. Ten years later, Smythe appointed Barker as president of the Maple Leafs. PHOTO: LAC MIKAN 3221254, DND Archives PA-007522
    In this First World War photo, Lieutenant Conn Smythe wears a Canadian Army uniform. In May 1917, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as an artillery observer and appointed to the rank of flying officer. He encountered Captain William Barker at 53 Squadron, a training unit in Narborough, England, where Barker was working as a flying instructor. In October 1917, Smythe was shot down and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner. Ten years later, Smythe appointed Barker as president of the Maple Leafs. PHOTO: LAC MIKAN 3221254, DND Archives PA-007522

  • Major William Barker, shown in a circa 1918 photo, is the Commonwealth’s most highly decorated war hero. In 1927, he became president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. PHOTO: LAC, MIKAN 3623168
    Major William Barker, shown in a circa 1918 photo, is the Commonwealth’s most highly decorated war hero. In 1927, he became president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. PHOTO: LAC, MIKAN 3623168

  • The artist’s design of the Queen’s Colour of Air Command, signed as “approved” by Queen Elizabeth II. Following the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), a new set of Colours, whose design conformed to new CAF policy, was presented to Air Command on July 31, 1982, by Governor General Edward Schreyer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Reflecting the Air Force’s new identity as Air Command, the Queen’s Colour carried the name “Air Command” on a maple leaf flag. IMAGE: DND
    The artist’s design of the Queen’s Colour of Air Command, signed as “approved” by Queen Elizabeth II. Following the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), a new set of Colours, whose design conformed to new CAF policy, was presented to Air Command on July 31, 1982, by Governor General Edward Schreyer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Reflecting the Air Force’s new identity as Air Command, the Queen’s Colour carried the name “Air Command” on a maple leaf flag. IMAGE: DND

  • The artist’s design of the Colour of Air Command, signed as “approved” by Queen Elizabeth II. Following the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), a new set of Colours, whose design conformed to new CAF policy, was presented to Air Command on July 31, 1982, by Governor General Edward Schreyer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Reflecting the Air Force’s new identity as Air Command, the Air Command Colour had the Air Command badge at its centre, portraying an eagle flying upwards from a crown. The Air Command motto shown on the badge, Sic Itur Ad Astra (“Such is the pathway to the stars”), was the motto of the first Canadian Air Force, before it became the “Royal” Canadian Air Force in 1924. This motto was retained when the name Royal Canadian Air Force was restored to the air element of the CAF in 2011. IMAGE: DND
    The artist’s design of the Colour of Air Command, signed as “approved” by Queen Elizabeth II. Following the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), a new set of Colours, whose design conformed to new CAF policy, was presented to Air Command on July 31, 1982, by Governor General Edward Schreyer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Reflecting the Air Force’s new identity as Air Command, the Air Command Colour had the Air Command badge at its centre, portraying an eagle flying upwards from a crown. The Air Command motto shown on the badge, Sic Itur Ad Astra (“Such is the pathway to the stars”), was the motto of the first Canadian Air Force, before it became the “Royal” Canadian Air Force in 1924. This motto was retained when the name Royal Canadian Air Force was restored to the air element of the CAF in 2011. IMAGE: DND
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