The Official Flag of Toronto Designed by Rene DeSantis in 1974

The end of 2020 was certainly a time of turmoil and reflection worldwide and here at home in Toronto. The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that Torontonians thrive together and that they come together in support of each other and to celebrate their neighbourhoods. The sense of city pride and the need to feel connected was necessary, now more than ever. The Toronto Flag team offered an ad in the Toronto Life magazine, featuring a DIY flag that could be posted in windows, pasted on notebooks, or crafted into a flag to wave. This small gesture to share the pride, unite and encourage a city socially distanced.

On the morning of July 14, 2020, Rene DeSantis, Toronto Flag creator, spoke with George Lagogianes of CP24 Breakfast. Mr. DeSantis shared the new “Feel The Love” Toronto music video, explained the origins of the Toronto Flag, and he and Mr. Lagogianes discussed what the city of Toronto means to them. Haven’t seen the “Feel The Love” Toronto music video yet? Check it out below!

This past Saturday morning, on June 6th, Mayor John Tory, joined by a member of the Queen’s Own Rifles, raised the Toronto Flag that flew at Juno Beach to commemorate and proclaim D-Day in Toronto.

During Saturday’s early morning ceremony in front of Toronto’s City Hall, Mayor John Tory honoured the 14,000 Canadians who stormed Juno Beach in Normandy.

“Their courage and their determination led to some successes in those early morning hours but that success came at a huge price,” said Tory, noting that 359 Canadian soldiers lost their lives on D-Day, including 50 from Toronto.

Marking the 75th year since the Normandy invasions by allied forces, the City sent a Toronto Flag to the Juno Beach Centre in France, which flew on Juno Beach on April 9, 2019, Vimy Ridge Day, and was subsequently returned to City Hall.

The flag was then raised on the Podium Roof courtesy flagpole on Nathan Phillips Square on June 6, 2019 as the City of Toronto commemorated D-Day. The Toronto Flag will fly each year on June 6 at Toronto City Hall. It will also fly on Remembrance Day and on other occasions.

Learn more about how Canadians are urged to heed lessons of war in ceremonies marking D-Day anniversary at:

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On the eve of Toronto’s 186th anniversary, Councillor Mike Colle donned his limited-edition Toronto Flag Scarf.

Rene DeSantis was thrilled to meet with Toronto Ambassador, Supendra, to share their love of Toronto, as well as stories about how they are promoting the city and the Toronto Flag.

Toronto City Manager Chris Murray and Rene DeSantis discuss planned initiatives for the city at a Transit Alliance Event held at the National Club.

In January 2020, city council passed a motion to look at how to better incorporate the flag into city events and marketing. The CBC’s City Hall reporter Lauren Pelley sat down with the man who designed the Toronto flag, Rene DeSantis, to talk about the flag’s past – and exciting future. Read the full story here at

You may have seen it flying at City Hall, outside of a school or arena in the city, but have you ever stopped to wonder where Toronto’s flag came from, and what it represents?

In August of 1974, Toronto City Council appointed a committee to design the city a new flag to better represent the changing face of Toronto. The City was modernizing rapidly – inspiring projects like First Canadian Place and CN Tower (construction began in 1973) were reshaping the skyline, and the city’s population doubled between 1951 and 1971.

The City of Toronto Flag Design Committee decided to host a competition and distributed design kits through Toronto library branches, schools, and government offices. The Committee offered a $500 Canada Savings Bond for a winning design and received more than 700 entries from citizens ranging in age from 6 to 90.

Post announcing the Design Toronto’s’ Flag competition. Photo courtesy of BlogTO.

Chosen from among 700 entries, the winning design came from 3rd year George Brown College student Rene DeSantis – his design depicts the two towers of Toronto City Hall outlined in white, with a red maple leaf in place of City Council’s chambers, where decisions impacting the daily lives of Torontonians are made. The blue represents the sky above city council as well as the waters of Lake Ontario.

Toronto’s flag designer Rene DeSantis (foreground) speaking with students and faculty from George Brown College’s Graphic Design department, circa 1974.

In 1997, plans were underway to amalgamate the former cities of Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, York and Toronto, and the Borough of East York into the new City of Toronto. City leaders decided that a new flag should be designed to represent the coming together of these 6 former municipalities, and a second contest was launched. 161 entries were received, but Council failed to approve any for official use.

With City Council unable to find a suitable design, Rene DeSantis suggested that his design should be retained, and at a November 1999 council meeting, Deputy Mayor Ootes called on the audience in the council chambers to vote on retaining the design – his motion was met with loud applause from the gallery, and Council passed the motion with a vote of 31-14. The City of Toronto’s “new” flag had been found.

Rene DeSantis (Right) with Mayor Mel Lastman (centre left) in 1999.

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We were honoured to visit Toronto City Hall today and present each member of City Council with an autographed, limited-edition print that celebrates the Toronto Flag, the 50th Anniversary of George Brown College, and Toronto’s modern history.

Now 45 years old, Toronto’s official flag was born of a public design competition held by City Council in 1974. A third-year George Brown graphic design student at the time, Rene DeSantis was declared the winner by a unanimous decision. In 1997, a second competition was held following Toronto’s amalgamation; however, it was decided that the new entries paled in comparison to the original, and so DeSantis’ design remains.

DeSantis credits this accomplishment to helping open doors when he went looking for a job after graduation. “If success comes in a thousand steps, what college did was take me up to the 999th,” says DeSantis, who is now the co-founder and President of Montana Steele Advertising, adding, “Without George Brown College, I would have never designed Toronto’s flag and would not be where I am today”.

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