Looking Forward: Looking Back

June 29, 2017


In celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial as well as our recent book Cultivating a Design Legacy: The First 50 Years, we're looking back at the shared project history of Entro and Gottschalk+Ash Toronto and how we’ve contributed to some of the major brands and spaces that represent Canada. Our history began with one of the most iconic symbols of Canada – the 1967 Centennial logo designed by G+A co-founder Stuart Ash.

Canada's 100th anniversary was a time for the nation to come together and celebrate our own unique identity as an independent country. After a unsuccessful design competition to create the Centennial logo, the federal government approached the typesetting and design firm of Cooper & Beatty to create it instead. Ash worked there as an apprentice, after graduating from the Ontario College of Art. C&B collaborated on the project with Ottawa design firm Paul Arthur & Associates to first write a brief, approved by the government.

Design teams from both studios worked on solutions, and presented the government and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson with two possible approaches by young designers Gerhard Doerrié and Stuart Ash. The government chose Ash’s stylized maple leaf constructed from 11 equilateral triangles – the first time the maple leaf had been officially chosen to represent the country. The Canadian public loved adopting the maple leaf as the national symbol cutting the British association and ancestral roots, repositioning the country's collective outlook with a more progressive international focus.

Ash moved to the Ottawa office of Paul Arthur, where he wrote and created the identity manual controlling the symbol’s guidelines and graphic use in all formal applications. The manual illustrated, among other things, how school classrooms across the nation could geometrically construct the symbol using the rudimentary tools available to them.

Click here to request a copy of the Centennial Symbol Graphics Manual.

Stuart had the pleasure of seeing his logo adopted across the country during Canada’s 100th anniversary, in applications ranging from flags on Parliament Hill to branded sidewalks and flower beds. The following year he received the Canadian Centennial Medal for the identity program. The reputation garnered here also helped to launch his and Fritz Gottschalk’s new design firm – Gottschalk+Ash. As we celebrate our nation's 150th birthday this year, we hope that the strong design legacy of the past will resonate with all Canadians as we continue to thrive in the future.