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North West Canada Medal (1885): CM.1408-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Artist: Wyon, Leonard Charles
Artist: Brock, Thomas
Ruler: Victoria (1837-1901)
Ruler: Victoria regina et imperatrix (With the title of)
Mint: London




Colonial Canada's nineteenth-century history did not lack for secessionist movements, all ultimately unsucessful. In 1870 the Canadian Government began to organise settlement in the North-West Territory, and this was resented by the indigenous peoples, including the Métis groups from whom the revolutionary Louis Riel, involved in the earlier Red River rising, sprang. Riel returned from exile in the United States in 1884 and immediately began to agitate for recognition of Métis rights. In 1885, emboldened by lack of Government response, he set up a Provisional Government and proclaimed himself a divinely-chosen leader, and although general support eluded him numerous indigenous groups took the opportunity to rise on their own accounts.
A military response was swiftly forthcoming, and almost all of the Canadian Militia had to be committed to the campaign. Three battles, at the Saskatchewan River, Fish Creek and Batoche, more or less suppressed the various insurgents and the government was able to pacify the Indian discontents with pardons and food supplies. Riel was forced to surrender, and was tried and hanged. He is still regarded as a hero and national father in some Québecois quarters.
This medal bears no name or bar, and its suspension, of the type used for the Crimean War Medal, is not that used for the regular issue of this medal. It is possible therefore that this piece was a specimen or test version. Lester Watson acquired it at some point before 1928.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, acquired before 1928

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 36.2 mm
Weight: 36.03 g

Place(s) associated

  • London

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


Production date: AD 1885

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Victoria facing left with veil

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Inscription surrounded by maple wreath

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1408-2009
Primary reference Number: 141502
Watson Catalogue: 317
Ordering: M-0291
Previous object number: LW.0291
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Saturday 22 January 2022 Last processed: Sunday 23 January 2022

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "North West Canada Medal (1885)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-06-07 10:48:07

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{{cite web|url= |title=North West Canada Medal (1885) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-06-07 10:48:07|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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