The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is the most widely recognized national symbol of Canada.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the settlements of New
France had attained a population of about 18,000. Also by this time, the
maple leaf had been adopted as an emblem by the French Canadians along
the Saint Lawrence River.
Its popularity with French Canadians continued and was reinforced
when, at the inaugural meeting of the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste in
1834, the maple leaf was one of numerous emblems proposed to represent
the society. Speaking in its favour, Jacques Viger, the first mayor of
Montreal, described the maple as the king of our forest, the symbol of
the Canadian people.