Quebec's fleurdelisé is one of the most famous and recognizable flags on the continent. In fact, its significance is so great that the government has outlined careful rules for flying the Quebec flag on public institutions.
These rules were first defined by the Act Respecting the Flag and Emblems of Quebec and can be found on the government's website.
Since it first officially flew on January 21, 1948, the fleurdelisé has become synonymous not only with the cultural identity of Quebec, but also with the State, itself, and the many bodies and institutions it has established to serve its residents.
The widespread use of the flag in these institutions is meant to signal their belonging within the State, according to the Act.
So the next time you see the flag of Quebec on a public building or at a public event, consider how these rules — just some of many — contribute to the visual identity of the province.
1. It's Not Supposed To Be Used As Decoration
Straight from the government website: "the flag is neither a decoration nor a furnishing element."
Instead, the many rules surrounding its use are meant to establish its "ceremonial character."
Another page of "general rules" on the website of the ministry of justice specifically forbids using it as a tablecloth.
2. It Needs To Be Proportional In Size To The Ship It's On
On ships, the justice ministry demands "a flag format proportional to the size of the vessel."
Specifically, "the flag should be 2.5 cm long for every 30 cm of vessel length."
3. There's A List Of Organizations That Are Required To Fly It
The Act Respecting the Flag and Emblems of Quebec states that the flag "must be officially displayed by a public institution or an establishment under the authority" of the provincial administration.
This long list of bodies and organizations includes, among many others, "all Government departments," "all bodies" whose expenses are at least half covered by the State, courts, schools and municipal council buildings.
Courts and municipal councils also have to display the flag in the room where they sit.
4. The Flag Has To Occupy 'The Place Of Honour'
When the flag of Quebec is displayed among other flags, it needs to occupy "the place of honour."
According to the government website, this means it must be to the left when it's one of two flags on display, in the middle when there are three flags, and to the left and front if there are more than three flags.
5. It Should 'Dominate Its Surroundings'
That's according to the justice website, which also calls for it to be far from other structures that could obstruct it, like trees (even tree shadows), telephone polls, or street lights.
Organizations required to fly it also can't put it on a pole with another flag.
There are also rules for its display on buildings, including specifications for flag poles that are proportional to the flag itself.
"Where the architecture is appropriate," the flag should go at the highest point of the structure, "in the center of the building or above the main façade of the building."
On a small building or a large building with a setback, the website says, the flag should be "above or near" the entrance on an angled pole.
6. It Should Be In Specific Positions
Generally, the "canton of honor," the top left quadrant of the flag, should be to the left of the observer.
This includes, according to the justice ministry website, when the flag is hanging across a room or above a street.
When the flag is on top of a coffin, "the canton of honor is placed over the shoulder of the deceased."