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Orders, decorations, and medals of Canada


Orders, decorations, and medals of Canada

The orders, decorations, and medals of Canada comprise a complex system by which Canadians are honoured by the country's sovereign for actions or deeds that benefit their community or the country at large. Modelled on its British predecessor, the structure originated in the 1930s, but began to come to full fruition at the time of Canada's centennial in 1967, with the establishment of the Order of Canada, and has since grown in both size and scope to include dynastic and national orders; state, civil, and military decorations; and various campaign medals. The monarch in right of each Canadian province also issues distinct orders and medals to honour residents for work performed in just their province. The provincial honours, as with some of their national counterparts, grant the use of post-nominal letters and or supporters and other devices to be used on personal coats of arms.

The monarch is regarded as the fount of all honours—as he or she is the only person who may create new national honours—and acts as the Sovereign of all of Canada's orders; she, or other members of the Canadian Royal Family, will conduct inductions or present medals.[1] In Canada, the monarch is represented by the governor general, who also carries out investitures and distributes awards in the sovereign's name. As such, the administration of the honours system is carried out by the Chancellery of Honours at Government House, which is a part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada. The governor general also sets out via Order in Council the order of precedence for the wearing of insignia, decorations, and medals.


  • History 1
    • Imperial and colonial honours 1.1
    • Canadian honours 1.2
  • Structure and the creation of honours 2
  • Orders 3
    • Order of Merit 3.1
    • Order of Canada 3.2
    • Order of Military Merit 3.3
    • Order of Merit of the Police Forces 3.4
    • Royal Victorian Order 3.5
    • Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem 3.6
  • Decorations 4
    • Military valour decorations 4.1
    • Bravery decorations 4.2
    • Meritorious service decorations 4.3
  • Medals 5
    • Commemorative medals 5.1
    • Campaign medals 5.2
    • Sacrifice medals 5.3
    • Service medals 5.4
    • Exemplary service medals 5.5
    • Long service and good conduct medals 5.6
    • Canadian Forces Decoration 5.7
    • Other 5.8
  • Provinces and territories 6
  • Imperial and foreign honours 7
  • Peerages 8
  • Arms, flags, and badges 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Citations 12
  • Further reading 13
  • External links 14


A medal awarded for participation in repelling the Fenian raids, presented by Queen Victoria in 1899

Imperial and colonial honours

Since as far back as the reign of King Louis XIV, the monarchs that reigned over colonies in New France, British North America, and present-day Canada have bestowed royal honours, decorations, and medals on those living under their sovereignty, in recognition of their services to the state.[2] Early Governors of New France also desired to establish local honours in or import European honours to Canada; Samuel de Champlain, for instance, founded on 14 November 1606 the Order of Good Cheer (still extant today) and Charles de Montmagny had designs to establish the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in New France while he was governor from 1635 to 1648.[3][4][5] The Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint-Louis, established by King Louis XIV in 1693 specifically to honour worthy French, Catholic military officers, came to be one of the most familiar honours in New France; some 300 people associated with Canada were appointed into it, Louis-Hector de Callière being the first.[6] Appointments into the order continued even after the transfer of New France to the British Crown in 1763.[7]

After the creation of British North America, Canadians were entitled to receive civil servants.[8] Appointments into the Order of the British Empire, into grades below those that carried a title, were also commonly made.[9] Besides knighthoods, peerage titles (both hereditary and life) were also bestowed on Canadians, sometimes with uniquely Canadian designations—such as Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe and Baron Beaverbrook of Beaverbrook in the Province of New Brunswick and of Cherkley in the County of Surrey—and permitted those so honoured to sit in the House of Lords at Westminster. Such acts of recognition were carried out by the reigning British monarch. Prior to Confederation, the sovereign did so on the advice of the British prime minister, the names of those to be honoured either selected by the colonial governor or governor general in British North America and passed on to the Secretary of State for the Colonies and then the prime minister, by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and passed on to the prime minister, or by the prime minister himself. The British government felt no obligation to consult any government in British North America before bestowing an honour upon any resident of the colonies.[10] Following Confederation, the Prime Minister of Canada submitted a list of names to the monarch via the governor general, though the governor general also continued to recommend individuals for honours without the Canadian prime minister's knowledge.[11]

This practice came into question in 1901, when Governor General Montreal Star owner Hugh Graham's elevation as the Baron Atholstan being granted seemingly without merit and against the advice of both Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden and Governor General the Duke of Devonshire),[12] the awarding of such distinctions in Canada immediately ceased.[13] Thereafter, the Canadian House of Commons in 1917 and 1919 passed the Nickle Resolutions, which, though never legally binding, generally cemented the cease of titular awards to Canadians. The end of the conferment of imperial honours on Canadians came in 1955.[14] Awards for gallantry and bravery, such as the Victoria Cross, however, remained available and knighthoods were still conferred: on Sir Frederick Banting in 1934, Sir Edwin Leather in 1964, and Sir Terry Matthews in 2002. Further, some pre-existing Canadian peerages continued to be recognised—the Baron de Longueuil and Baron of Fleet, for example—and still others were granted after 1919 by the sovereign of Canada, such as the Viscount Bennett of Mickleham, Hopewell, and Calgary.

Canadian honours

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal

Governor General R. B. Bennett; this was the first time an honour specific to Canada and for service in Canada had been established by the monarch of Canada (as opposed to earlier campaign and service medals that had been issued to Canadians and British personnel alike by the British monarch). There was uncertainty amongst officials in Canada and Britain alike around how to go about creating such an honour, and delays were incurred not only as Canadian bureaucrats interpreted the Nickle Resolution as applying to medals, but also because the King himself was widening the project to consider all the Commonwealth and Empire police forces.[2]

This process was refined through the William Lyon Mackenzie King, that the sovereign alone would retain the prerogative to create new honours.[17] In 1951, the first distinctly Canadian campaign medal, the Korea Medal, was created, when other Commonwealth countries used the British version.[18]

The centennial of Canadian Confederation in 1967 provided the right opportunity and circumstances in which to establish Canada's first order: the Order of Canada.[19] The system was officially established in 1972 and has since expanded,[20] mostly through the 1990s,[13] and generally attracted little criticism; indeed, the orders, decorations, and medals of Canada inspired other Commonwealth realms, such as Australia and New Zealand, to adopt similar approaches in their respective jurisdictions, as did each of Canada's provinces. However, some experts in the field, such as Christopher McCreery, have pointed out what they see as deficiencies in the construct: At the 2006 conference on Commonwealth Honours, the concern was raised that Canada does not have a way to recognize the nation's very best; the three grades of the Order of Canada being insufficient to do so. It was suggested that either two more levels be added to the Order of Canada, equivalent to knighthoods in British orders, or create a new single class but limited-membership order, similar to the Order of New Zealand. The order of precedence also came under scrutiny, particularly the anomaly that all three grades of the Order of Canada supersede the top levels of each of the other orders, contrary to international practice.[13] McCreery echoed these comments in 2010 and added that the Canadian honours system was lacking a polar medal, such as those issued in other northern nations, as well as a public service order, akin to the Imperial Service Order, and honours to specifically recognise protective services other than the police forces.[21]

Structure and the creation of honours

The Queen of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II, is the fount of the Canadian honours system, pictured here wearing her insignias as Sovereign of the Order of Canada and of the Order of Military Merit

All honours in Canada emanate from the country's monarch,[22] who is regarded as the fount of honour;[23][24] only he or she may create new honours,[24] though this is generally done on the advice of the sitting ministers of the Crown.[22] The sovereign's representative in Canada, the governor general, administers most of the honours system through the Chancellery of Honours, which is a part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada.[25] The governor general also sets out, via Order in Council, the order of precedence for the wearing of insignia, decorations, and medals.

The momentum to create a new honour typically originates at either the Chancellery of Honours or the public servants, formed in 1980 within the Privy Council Office[22]—and then, if approved, is moved before the Cabinet for an Order in Council to be drawn up. On the prime minister's advice, via the governor general, the documents and drawings for the new honour are presented to the Queen for her consideration; only with her signature on the relevant letters patent and the design sketches does the new honour officially become extant.[22] Any future amendments to the honour's appearance or award criteria do not need the monarch's approval; the governor general will perform such tasks instead.[26]

In the Canadian structure, unlike its counterparts in Britain and other countries, nominees names are put forward to the governor general by independent committees, which in turn receive nominations from the public, in an attempt to create a non-partisan process that avoids political controversy.[27][28] Most orders have a unique advisory committee, consisting of individuals relevant to the scope of the particular order, all appointed by the governor general or a delegate; for instance, the Advisory Committee for the Order of Military Merit has six members: one appointed by the governor general, four by the chief of the Defence Staff, and the chief of the Defence Staff him or herself.[29] There are also advisory councils or committees for decorations in general and for valour decorations, specifically.[30][31] The Secretary to the Governor General will usually serve as secretary general to many of these boards.[29]

The Canadian honours system also includes two dynastic orders—the Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order—and one personal award of the sovereign—the Royal Victorian Chain. These were created by the sovereign alone and inductions and presentations are at his or her personal discretion.


Orders have a number of grades or classes to acknowledge different levels of achievement. Usually, the insignia for the top grades are worn on a neck ribbon by men and on a pinned bow by women, while those for the lower levels are worn suspended on ribbons attached to the left of the jacket of dress, those for women again usually on a bow. These insignia are presented to the recipient by either the monarch or governor general. Orders are not awarded to individuals, instead one is appointed into membership in a society of honour, and can be promoted to higher grades within the group. The appointment to an order also entitles the appointee to post-nominal letters.[13]

Order of Merit

Admission to the Order of Merit (French: Ordre du Mérite) is the highest civilian award for merit in Canada.[2][32][33][34] Founded in 1902 by King Edward VII to recognise distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture,[35] the Order of Merit has one grade and carries with it only the post-nominal letters OM. One of the few dynastic orders in Canada, the order's membership is limited to, at one time, no more than 24 living individuals from the Commonwealth realms.[36] Four Canadians have been appointed to the order: William Lyon Mackenzie King, Wilder Penfield, Lester B. Pearson, and Jean Chrétien. There is only one grade to the Order of Merit:

  • Member (OM)

Order of Canada

The insignia for a female Officer of the Order of Canada

The Order of Canada (French: Ordre du Canada) is the country's second highest civilian honour for merit and is administered by the Governor General-in-Council, on behalf of the monarch of Canada.[37] Created in 1967, appointment is granted to those who adhere to the order's motto Desiderantes meliorem patriam (Latin for: "desiring a better country"),[38] meaning that, in essence, the honour recognises lifetime contributions made by Canadians who made a major difference to Canada, or non-Canadians who made the world better by their actions.[39] Musicians, politicians, artists, television stars, benefactors, and many more have been accepted into the order; since its creation, more than 5,000 people have been appointed to the Order of Canada.[40] The order, of which the monarch is Sovereign and the serving governor general is Chancellor and Principal Companion, is currently composed of three grades:

  • Companion (CC)
  • Officer (OC)
  • Member (CM)

Order of Military Merit

The Order of Military Merit (French: Ordre du mérite militaire) is a society of members of the Canadian Forces who have demonstrated dedication and devotion beyond the call of duty.[41] Established in 1972 by Queen Elizabeth II,[42][43] who serves as the order's Sovereign, with the governor general as the Chancellor and the chief of the Defence Staff as Principal Commander,[42] the award has three classes:

  • Commander (CMM)
  • Officer (OMM)
  • Member (MMM)

Order of Merit of the Police Forces

Members of Canada's various police bodies who have demonstrated conspicuous merit and exceptional service are inducted into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (French: Ordre du mérite des corps policiers), which was created in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II. As with the Order of Military Merit, the reigning monarch is the Sovereign of the order, while the governor general is the Chancellor and the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acts as Principal Commander.[44] The order has three grades:

  • Commander (COM)
  • Officer (OOM)
  • Member (MOM)

Royal Victorian Order

The embroidered insignia of a Commander or Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order

The Royal Victorian Order (French: Ordre royal de Victoria) is a dynastic order established in 1896 by Queen Victoria to recognise those who performed exemplary personal service for the sovereign. The order's day is 20 June, the date of Victoria's accession to the throne, and its motto is Victoria.[45] The structure includes five classes and a medal, though the levels of Knight or Dame Grand Cross and Knight or Dame Commander, available to all in other Commonwealth realms, are not normally open to Canadian citizens, due to the titles that come with appointment to those grades and the Cabinet's adherence to the non-binding Nickle Resolution.[46][47] Members of the Canadian Royal Family, however, as subjects of the Canadian monarch but not citizens of Canada,[48] can, and do, occupy the two uppermost grades. The order's classes, in order of seniority, are:

  • Knight or Dame Grand Cross (GCVO)
  • Knight or Dame Commander (KCVO or DCVO)
  • Commander (CVO)
  • Lieutenant (LVO)
  • Member (MVO)

Award of the Royal Victorian Medal allows the recipient the use of the post-nominal letters RVM.

Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (French: L'Ordre très vénérable de l'Hôpital de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem[49]) is a working order of charitably minded men and women whose philanthropy is expressed principally through its two foundations: the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem and St. John Ambulance. The order traces its origins to the Knights Hospitaller of the Crusades, who served the Abbey of St. Mary's small hospital for sick pilgrims in Jerusalem in the 12th century. It was established in the United Kingdom in 1831 and given a royal charter by Queen Victoria in 1888,[50] and has existed in Canada in some form for many years,[51] but was only officially brought into the Canadian honours system in 1995. The governor general is the Prior and Chief Officer in Canada, while the lieutenant governors serve as Vice-Prior in their respective province.[52] Each is also automatically appointed as a Knight or Dame of Justice or Grace upon being sworn into their viceregal office. Members of the Royal Family may also hold the level of Bailiffs or Dames Grand Cross, with the post-nominal letters GCStJ.

Currently, there are approximately 5,500 active Canadian members in the Order,[53] induction being granted by nomination only to Canadian citizens or permanent residents at or over the age of 18. This is done at the discretion of the Sovereign Head of the Order, Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of the Prior.[54]

In Canada, the order has five grades:

  • Bailiffs or Dames Grand Cross (GCStJ)[55]
  • Knight or Dame (KStJ or DStJ)
  • Commander (CStJ)
  • Officer (OStJ)
  • Serving Member (SBStJ or SSStJ)


The Star of Military Valour, the second highest of Canada's military valour decorations

Decorations are awarded for gallantry, civilian bravery, or meritorious services; only the Royal Victorian Medal (post-nominal letters RVM, French: Médaille royale de Victoria), a decoration associated with the Royal Victorian Order, is not slotted into any of the three aforementioned categories. They are similar to national orders, are created by the sovereign and conferred by her or her viceroy, and are worn on the left side of the jacket or dress. Decorations also entitle the recipient to post-nominal letters.[13]

Military valour decorations

The military valour decorations were created on 2 February 1993 by Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of her Cabinet under then prime minister Brian Mulroney.[56] For all three military valour decorations, recipients must be a member of the Canadian Forces or an allied armed force that is serving with or in conjunction with the Canadian Forces, on or after 1 January 1993.[57] All military valour decorations may be awarded posthumously.

The Victoria Cross (post-nominal letters VC, French: Croix de Victoria) is the highest award for valour available to members of the Canadian Forces of any rank, in any service, and allies serving under or with Canadian military command. Based on the British version of the same medal, it is only awarded for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force.[58] Prior to 1993, the original Victoria Cross was awarded to 94 Canadians,[59] none of whom are now living; since its creation, no Canadian Victoria Cross has been issued.

The Star of Military Valour (post-nominal letters SMV, French: Étoile de la vaillance militaire) was created as an award for Canadian Forces personnel who had demonstrated "distinguished and valiant service in the presence of the enemy."[56] The star may be presented more than once,[60] an additional bar on the medal's ribbon marking each subsequent award. It was only first presented in 2006, as Canada's participation in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan created for the first time circumstances wherein one could carry out actions deserving of the Star of Military Valour.[61]

The Medal of Military Valour (post-nominal letters MMV, French: Médaille de la vaillance militaire) is awarded to members of the Canadian Forces for "an act of valour or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."[56] The medal, too, was only first awarded in 2006 and may be earned multiple times,[62] marked by the addition of bars to the medal's ribbon.

Bravery decorations

Established on 1 May 1972 by Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of her Cabinet headed by Pierre Trudeau, the bravery decorations are awarded to any person who risked his or her life to save or protect another person; it is not necessary that the incident take place in Canada, and no particular person must be Canadian, but it is required that at least one individual involved in the occurrence be a Canadian citizen. Nominations must be made within two years of the incident, or within two years after a court or a coroner has concluded its review on the circumstances surrounding the incident or act of bravery, and each decoration may be awarded posthumously.[63]

The Canadian Medal of Bravery, the lowest of Canada's three bravery decorations


  • Modern Honours of Canada – Veteran Affairs Canada
  • Canadian Forces Administrative Order 18-4 Recommendations for Canadian Orders, Decorations and Military Honours
  • The Gallantry Medallists' League

External links


Further reading

  1. ^ "Prince Edward gives medals to P.E.I. soldiers". CTV. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c McCreery 2010, p. 1
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Dunlop, Dale; Scott, Alison (2006). Exploring Nova Scotia. Halifax: Formac Publishing Company. p. 20.  
  5. ^ Hamelin, Jean (2000). "Huault de Montmagny, Charles". In University of Toronto/Université Laval. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 1000–1700 1. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  6. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 22
  7. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 23
  8. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 26
  9. ^ McCreery 2005a, pp. 28–29
  10. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 33
  11. ^ a b McCreery 2005a, p. 35
  12. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 36
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jackson, Michael D. (2007). "Honours of the Crown". Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada). Summer 2007 (26): 10–11. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  14. ^ Boyce, Peter (2008). The Queen's Other Realms. Annandale: Federation Press. pp. 8–9.  
  15. ^ Hubbard, R.H. (1977). Rideau Hall. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 9.  
  16. ^ McCreery 2010, p. 2
  17. ^ McCreery 2010, p. 4
  18. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 31
  19. ^  
  20. ^  
  21. ^ McCreery 2010, p. 6
  22. ^ a b c d  
  23. ^ Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "Honours and Recognition Programs > Canadian National Honours". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  24. ^ a b  
  25. ^  
  26. ^ McCreery 2010, p. 5
  27. ^ McCreery 2005a, p. 18
  28. ^  
  29. ^ a b  
  30. ^  
  31. ^ "Governor General to present 48 Military Decorations at Rideau Hall" (Press release). Queen's Printer for Canada. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  32. ^  
  33. ^ McCreery 2005b
  34. ^ Taber, Jane (15 July 2009). "Chrétien 'thrilled' by rare honour from Queen". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  35. ^ Martin, Stanley (2007). The Order of Merit: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. p. 1.  
  36. ^ The Royal Household. "The Queen and the UK > Queen and Honours > Order of Merit". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 28 July 2009. 
  37. ^  
  38. ^  
  39. ^  
  40. ^  
  41. ^  
  42. ^ a b  
  43. ^  
  44. ^  
  45. ^ Royal Household. "The Queen and the UK > Queen and Honours > Royal Victorian Order". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  46. ^ Dundas, Charles (2008). "The Royal Victorian Order Conundrum". Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada). Spring 2008 (28): 6. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  47. ^ "Irene White Appointed to Royal Victorian Order" (Press release). Queen's Printer for Saskatchewan. 27 June 1995. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  48. ^ Department of National Defence 1999, p. 281
  49. ^ St. John Ambulance. "Français > À l'échelle du Canada > À propos de nous > L'Ordre de Saint-Jean". St. John Ambulance Canada. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  50. ^ "Who We Are". The Order of St. John. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  51. ^ "Canada Wide > About Us > History > Our History in Canada". St. John Ambulance Canada. Retrieved 10 August 2009. 
  52. ^ "Canada Wide > About Us > The Order of St. John > The Order of St. John in Canada". St. John Ambulance Canada. Retrieved 10 August 2009. 
  53. ^ "Canada Wide > About Us > Corporate Information > Priory Chapter". St. John Ambulance Canada. Retrieved 10 August 2009. 
  54. ^  
  55. ^  
  56. ^ a b c  
  57. ^  
  58. ^  
  59. ^ Reynolds, Ken. "Pro Valore: Canada's Victoria Cross" (2 ed.). Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  60. ^  
  61. ^ "Governor General announces the first-ever awarding of Military Valour Decorations" (Press release). Queen's Printer for Canada. 27 October 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  62. ^  
  63. ^  
  64. ^ a b c  
  65. ^  
  66. ^  
  67. ^ a b  
  68. ^ a b  
  69. ^ a b  
  70. ^ a b  
  71. ^  
  72. ^ "Canadian Heritage Galleries > Miscellaneous > Confederation > Confederation Medal-1". Canadian Heritage Gallery. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  73. ^ a b Willis, N.M. "Medals, Emblems & Heraldry > Medal". In Marsh, James H. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  74. ^ "Explore > Highlights > Bronze medal celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, by Leonard Wyon after Sir Frederic Leighton and Sir Edgar Boehm". The British Museum. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  75. ^ "Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Medal". Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  76. ^  
  77. ^  
  78. ^  
  79. ^  
  80. ^  
  81. ^  
  82. ^  
  83. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "It's an Honour > Additional Information". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  84. ^ McCreery 2005, pp. 100–101
  85. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26176. p. 3378. 26 June 1891.
  86. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26192. p. 4378. 14 August 1891.
  87. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30120. p. 5639. 8 June 1917.
  88. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35225. p. 4213. 22 July 1941.
  89. ^ a b Bartlett, Steve (8 January 2011), "From Placentia to the Palace", The Telegram, retrieved 9 January 2011 
  90. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Heraldry Today > Applying for Armorial Bearings". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 




See also

The Canadian Heraldic Authority, which grants coats of arms (armorial bearings), flags, and badges to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and corporate bodies, forms a part of the Canadian honours system; the granting of arms is regarded as an honour from the monarch, via the governor general, and thus are bestowed only on those whom the Chief Herald has deemed individuals worthy of receiving a grant of arms.[90]

Arms, flags, and badges

There are also 120 Baronets of Nova Scotia. Created 1625–1706, these baronets technically represent the baronets (Bt./Btss.) of Canada.

. Diana, Princess of Wales, brother of the Earl Spencer upon her marriage in 2011 to Countess Spencer, a Canadian citizen, became Karen Gordon, also a citizen of Canada and the present Lord Downpatrick, and his wife, if any, will then use the titles Earl and Countess of St. Andrews as a courtesy title and their eldest son, if any, would be known as Lord Downpatrick. Also, Edward though her eldest son, [89] Members of the

A number of distinctly Canadian titles have been granted by the sovereign. These include (with existent ones in italics):

The escutcheon of the arms of the Baron of Longueuil


Canadians remain eligible for appointment into the Order of the Companions of Honour, as its statutes set aside a specific number of the order's total 65 places for residents of Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and 11 for those from any other Commonwealth country. Appointments are made on the recommendation of the appropriate cabinet, but the Canadian government makes none. The order currently has one Canadian member—John de Chastelain—who was nominated by the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.[84]

State honours bestowed upon a Canadian by a foreign government must be approved by the Governor-General-in-Council before the insignia, decoration, or medal may be worn. Those for honours bestowed by other Commonwealth countries are worn, in the order of date of appointment or award, following all those for Canadian honours, should the recipient have any. The same from countries not in the Commonwealth are worn after those from Commonwealth countries, again in order of date of appointment or award. However, the insignia of orders, as well as medals and decorations, within the Imperial (i.e. British) honours system that were received by a Canadian prior to 1 June 1972 have a different order of wear, mixed with the designated order for Canadian honours.[83]

Imperial and foreign honours

The Canadian provinces each have their own internal honours system, though they differ in some ways from their federal counterpart. British Columbia was the first to create a provincial honour in 1953. However, after the establishment of the Canadian honours system in 1967, other provinces moved to initiate their own systems after the federal government refused to do so on their behalf. An agreement was eventually reached around 1990 on the placement of the provincial honours in the Canadian order of precedence for orders, decorations, and medals.

Clockwise from top left: the insignia of a Grand Officer of the National Order of Québec and those of Members of the Order of Ontario, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the Alberta Order of Excellence, and the Order of British Columbia

Provinces and territories


The Canadian Forces Decoration (post-nominal letters CD) is given members of the Canadian Forces of all ranks who have completed twelve years of military service. By convention, it is also given to the Governor General of Canada upon his or her appointment as viceroy, which includes the designation of the title of Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada. Despite its name, the Canadian Forces Decoration is a medal as opposed to a decoration.[13]

Canadian Forces Decoration

Long service and good conduct medals

Exemplary service medals

The General Service Medal (centre) and Special Service Medal (right) (with the General Campaign Star at left)

Service medals

Within the Canadian system of honours are medals that specifically recognise death or severe injury in the course of military service. The mother, widow, widower, or next of kin of any member of the Canadian Forces who loses his or her life in active service, including peacekeeping, and other such international operations.[80] From amongst the recipients of the medal has been drawn annually the Silver Cross Mother. Later, in 2008, Queen Elizabeth II approved the establishment of the Sacrifice Medal (French: Médaille du sacrifice) as a replacement for the Wound Stripe,[81] to be presented to any member of the Canadian Forces or allied forces who were wounded or killed in action. The medal is also awarded posthumously to any member of the Canadian Forces who dies under honourable circumstances as a result of an injury or disease related to military service.[82]

Sacrifice medals

Canadians earlier qualified for British campaign medals, though these awards were, at the time, not foreign to Canada.[76][77][78] Some were created specifically for Canada, such as the Canadian General Service Medal, which was issued in 1899 to recognise active participation in defending the country from the Fenian raids and later in suppressing the Red River Rebellion.[79]

Canada's campaign medals are a continuation of the tradition of the monarch recognising service in a designated military operation or performance of duty in a geographical theatre; save for the General Campaign Stars and Medals, each is associated with a particular conflict. The general star and medal are issued for any active service in a combat zone, which one or ones being distinguished by additional clasps that are worn on the medal's ribbon. Such medals presently recognised in the Canadian honours system are:

Campaign medals

Earlier commemorative medals for Canada or given to Canadians included:

Such medals presently recognised in the Canadian honours system are: [71] Until 1977, the practice for coronation and jubilee medals was for authorities in the

All Canadian commemorative medals excepting the 1887 Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee Medal

Commemorative medals

Only the Canadian Forces Decoration grants a holder the use of post-nominal letters. [13] Canada has various types of medals, some part of the official honours system and others not. Those in the former category tend to be related to state organisations, such as


The Meritorious Service Medal (post-nominal letters MSM, French: Médaille du service méritoire) is the secondary meritorious service decoration and recognises highly professional acts that are of considerable benefit to the Canadian Forces by military personnel, and to the nation by civilians.[68][70]

The Meritorious Service Cross (post-nominal letters MSC, French: Croix du service méritoire) is intended to recognize individuals—both Canadian and foreign—who have carried out meritorious acts bringing benefit and honour.[70] The military division recognises highly professional acts that are of considerable benefit to the Canadian Forces, while its civilian counterpart honours similar acts—whether in athletics, diplomatic relations, humanitarian activities, etc.—that benefit the nation.[69]

The meritous service decorations are each divided into military and civilian categories, which each may be awarded to both Canadians and non-Canadians. The set of awards was initially formed on 11 June 1984 by Queen Elizabeth II,[68] on the advice of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, but consisted of decorations available only to Canadian Forces personnel; it was on 6 June 1991 that the civilian classifications were added.[69]

Canada's two meritorious service decorations, (left to right) the Meritorious Service Cross (military division) and the Meritorious Service Medal (civil division)

Meritorious service decorations

The Medal of Bravery (post-nominal letters MB, French: Médaille de la Bravoure) is the third rank of the bravery decorations, awarded in recognition of "acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances,"[64] and has been awarded most frequently; as of August 2009, 2,478 medals had been distributed, though no bars were issued.[67]

Presented to both living and deceased individuals deemed to have performed "acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril,"[66] the Star of Courage (post-nominal letters SC, French: Étoile du Courage) is the second-highest ranking of Canadian bravery decorations.[64] As of August 2009, the Star of Courage has been presented to 417 people, though no bars have yet been issued.[67]

It was presented for the first time on 20 July 1972. [65]

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