Honouring Murray Knight: Volunteers Continue Beloved Flag Tradition in Morinville

Video by Soaring Pig Studios


by Stephen Dafoe

There’s a tradition in Morinville that has gone on for a decade and a half: placing small Canadian flags on people’s lawns on Canada Day.

The practice began when the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society revived Canada Day in St. Jean Baptiste Park after an absence of many years.

At the front of that movement was the man behind all those little red and white Canadian flags on the edge of everyone’s lawn in Morinville, Murray Knight.

“I just loved it, and it was great to look down the street and you saw the Canadian flags,” said Morinville Historical and Cultural Society President Paulette Houle, who was recruited to her position by Knight. “We kept it on there as long as we could, and when we couldn’t, we put them away. And the following year, we had two or three flags on our lawn. It was just such a good feeling.”

It is a feeling shared by Councillor Ray White. “The first time I woke up and seen that Canadian flag on my lawn, I thought, ‘What a great place to live,’ and somebody had taken on this task,” White said. “I found out it was Murray Knight, and he had done this for several years.”

Councillor Rebecca Balanko, one of the roughly three dozen volunteers helping carry on the placement of flags, said until she was on Council, she was unaware of how the flags ended up on lawns.

“They would just magically show up every year on my front yard, and I would take pictures of it every year, was curious about it, but never really understood where it came from,” she said. “I just felt it was something that brought our community closer together.”

Knight and a team of dedicated volunteers continued the tradition of bringing the community closer together for many years until his passing on Nov. 8, 2022.

“It was very, very tough on my whole family, losing him – myself in particular,” said Murray’s grandson, Kade Knight, who was close to his grandfather. “I felt [he was] as great as a man can get. He was all about community and that’s something that I want to go ahead with and keep his legacy thriving off the fact that he was all about community.”

On Knight’s passing, Ray White thought perhaps that Canada Day tradition had ended. But he was not prepared to let that happen and decided to pick up the reins, along with Knight’s volunteers to see it continued.

“When Mary passed away, we were looking at a way to carry on that legacy, so what we’ve done is, we’ve got the same volunteers that Murray had, and we are going out to put 4200 flags in lawns in the town of Morinville,” White said, noting this year is the second year for the tradition to continue after Knight’s death. “When people wake up in the morning and they see that flag on their lawn, it was either planted there the night of Jun. 30 or very early in the morning on Jul. 1.”

White expressed his gratitude to Jiffy Lube Morinville for kicking in $1000 towards the cost of the flags and to the Town of Morinville for picking up the balance.

“I think it doesn’t cost a lot of money to show what kind of community spirit the town of Morinville has and the Canada flags on the lawn on Jul. 1 is something that we can be proud of,” White said, noting the annual appearance of flags has been named the Murray Knight Canada Day Flags.

And with a dedicated team of volunteers to take the reins, it looks like the tradition will continue in Morinville for many more years.

“It fills me with a lot of joy. My grandfather felt very strongly about Canada Day in keeping Canadian patriotism,” Kade Knight said, adding few people even knew his grandfather was behind the flags. “He didn’t necessarily want the recognition; he just wanted everybody to be proud of where we’re from, just as I am, and I hope the entire community as well.”

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  1. Our town is a better place because of people like Murray! I’m glad to have been able to call him a friend.

  2. The flag tradition was an imported idea from Cold Lake where they used to put flags on people’s lawn every year.
    Also, I believe the flags can be ordered free from heritage Canada.

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