The community of Azilda now has its own flag, and it was designed by Frank Bach, who grew up in the town, and has gone on to have a career as a professional designer in Los Angeles, California.
Last spring, the Azilda Community Action Network (CAN) launched a contest to design a flag for the community. Anyone of any age who either lives in Azilda or used to live there was welcome to enter.
Seven people ended up entering the contest, which ran until October, and the panel of three judges selected Bach’s design.
The top of the flag features a white sun on a yellow background, and the bottom features a stripe of blue with the word “Azilda” in white.
Bach, who used to run a design firm in Sudbury, but moved to LA about five years ago, said the sky represents a sunny winter or summer day in the town, and the blue represents Whitewater Lake.
The sun also represents Azilda Bélanger, the first female pioneer of the area, who was said to have incredible healing powers. Bach said he sees the sun as a healing force, and wonders if Bélanger would have agreed with him.
Bach said in designing the flag, he thought about paying tribute to Azilda’s past as a railroad town, as well as using the colours green and white to make the flag a type of sub-brand of the City of Greater Sudbury.
“Then I thought ‘Let’s go the other way,’” he said. “Maybe it was influenced by my time here in California, where most days are bright and sunny. When I think of Azilda, I don’t think of the cold, dark winter days. I think of the beautiful, warm summer days.”
Considering himself a feminist, Bach said he wanted to pay tribute to Azilda Bélanger, who’s a strong female historic figure.
“If you look it up on Wikipedia, you’ll see that she was known for healing abilities,” he said. “What that means I don’t totally know. I imagine she was maybe able to help people with some illnesses. I thought that’s kind of interesting …
“I thought that would be cool if I could somehow embody a known female figure in the flag and pay tribute to that. I feel like that would be a good thing.”
As a professional designer, Bach said he wouldn’t normally enter a contest, but couldn’t resist the chance to design a flag for his hometown, the place where his grandparents ran a butcher shop called Mickey’s Meats.
“I thought it would be a really great way to give back to that community, and hopefully have something that people can look toward, to uplift them, to feel positive about and to get them excited about the potential future that that community could have,” he said.
“It was a bit of a dream project in that way.”
Bach said he’s gotten some great feedback from those who have viewed his design, including descendants of Azilda Bélanger (one commenter said Bélanger, who had 15 children, now has more than 400 descendants).
Cora Vandendriessche, secretary of the Azilda CAN, said the plan is to feature Bach’s design on flags attached to light standards along St. Agnes Street in Azilda. The flags will be purchased with funds provided to the CAN by the city.
“The goal is that these flags will be something that the community can begin embracing and taking ownership of,” she said.