An ensign is the flag that identifies or symbolizes a unit or organization’s history and heritage. The term is often associated with naval and civilian ships. On November 30, 1921, the Canadian Air Force ensign, identical to that of the Royal Air Force (RAF), was unfurled for the first time at Camp Borden, Ontario. In June 1940, the King approved the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) ensign, which replaced the roundel’s original red (circle) centre with a naturalistic red maple leaf (silver maple leaf with veins). The ensign was retired upon the introduction of the national flag in 1965, and the introduction of the Canadian Armed Forces ensign. The blue RCAF flag echoes the ensign’s design, with the national flag in the upper left corner (“the hoist” or canton) and the roundel on the “fly”.
In 1972, the RCAF Association petitioned Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to decree that the Ensign, (declared "obsolete" by DND's Director of Ceremonial) should become a "living symbol" for the Association. In September, 1973 our Association was formally advised that by Royal decree, the Ensign was ours, and would henceforth be known as the "RCAF Association Ensign." It was suggested by DND at the time that the Association alter the (silver Maple Leaf) to match the one in the 1965 Maple Leaf flag.
The RCAF Association changed its name to Air Force Association of Canada in 1994, and on January 1, 1997 the Ensign was officially trade-marked under Section 9 of the Canada Trade Marks Act, to be known as the Air Force Association Ensign. In 1984, an Air Command "flag" was authorized by DND. It resembles the Ensign with the Canadian flag replacing the Union Jack.