Rectangular area of a flag
In vexillography, the canton is a rectangular emblem placed at the top left of a flag, usually occupying up to a quarter of a flag's area. The canton of a flag may be a flag in its own right. For instance, British ensigns have the Union Jack as their canton, as do their derivatives such as the national flags of Australia and New Zealand.
Following the practice of British ensigns, a canton sometimes contains a symbol of national unity, such as the blue field and white stars of the flag of the United States of America. In these cases, the canton may be called simply the union.
The American flag's canton derives from Britain's use of the Union Jack in the flags of its possessions (including, historically, the Thirteen American Colonies). Subsequently, many New World nations (along with other later countries and regions, such as Liberia or Malaysia) that were inspired by the United States adopted flag elements that were inspired by the American flag. As a result, many extant uses of a prominent canton derive either from British territorial history, or American influence and inspiration.
Former flags that used cantons
A Soviet-era flag for Georgia
, It was the only Soviet Union Republic flag with the canton and in which the hammer and sickle were not gold in color.
The November 1889 flag of Brazil
had a blue canton defaced with 21 white stars.
The first version of the flag of the Confederate States
featured a canton defaced with stars, with the stars representing its claimed constituent states
Subsequent flags of the CS incorporated a star-defaced saltire (known as the "Confederate Battle Flag") in their cantons.
The flag of the Orange Free State
had a canton with a horizontal triband of red, white, and blue (e.g. the Dutch flag) in it.
The national flag of Texas
from 1835 to 1839 had a blue canton, defaced with a single star.
Territories, organizations, and subdivisions
Flag of the Canadian Army
from 1939 to 1944, which had a canton consisting of the UK's national flag.
Flag of the Canadian Army from 1968 to 1998 used a canton consisting of Canada's national flag.
Many French colonial flags contained the Flag of France in the canton.
Serbia and Montenegro
Naval ensign of Serbia and Montenegro from 1992 to 2006, which had a canton with a horizontal triband of blue, white, and red (e.g. the Serbia and Montenegro national flag) in it.
Flag of the Cape Colony had a canton consisting of the UK's national flag; like most of the UK's colonies.
Flag of the South African Defence Force, which had a canton with the RSA's national flag in it.
Flag of the South African Police, which had a canton with the RSA's national flag in it.
An early flag design for New Mexico
, which shows a rare instance of the US flag as a canton
An early flag for Vermont, which was substantially identical to the US flag of the time
Yugoslav naval ensign from 1949 to 1993, which had a canton consisting of a horizontal triband of blue, white, and red, defaced with a star and wreath.
Flag of the SR BiH, which had a canton consisting of the Yugoslav flag.