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Canada General Service Medal. A circular, silver medal, 1.42 inches in diameter.

Canada General Service Medal (1866-1870)


Campaign Stars and Medals (1866-1918)

Canada General Service Medal (1866-1870)


This medal was awarded to members of the Imperial and Canadian forces who had taken part in the suppression of the Fenian raids of 1866 and 1870 and Riel's First Rebellion of 1870, the latter being generally referred to as the Red River Expedition.

Eligibility and criteria

Because the medal was not issued until 1899, it was awarded only if applied for and the recipient must have:

  • been on active service in the field; or
  • been detailed for some specific service or duty; or
  • served as guard at any point where an attack from the enemy was expected.


A circular, silver medal, 1.42 inches in diameter. For mounting, there is a plain, straight, swiveling suspender is attached to the medal with a double-toe claw for mounting.

The obverse shows a diademed and veiled effigy of Queen Victoria wearing the Order of the Garter, facing left, and the legend VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX.

The reverse displays the red ensign of Canada, floating with the breeze, surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves and surmounted by the word CANADA.

The ribbon is 1.25 inches wide and consists of three equal stripes: red, white, and red.


Fenian Raid (1866): Fenians is the name of the old Irish National Militia. After the Civil War in the USA, the American Fenians were bolstered by Civil War mercenaries. In need of something to occupy this large force, John O'Neil crossed the Niagara River, captured Fort Erie, and made his headquarters at Limeridge. The Fenians defeated a unit of the Canadian Militia at Ridgeway, but withdrew to the USA when a stronger force was sent to the area. President Johnson had many of the Fenians arrested.

Fenian Raid (1870): On 26 May 1870, O'Neil again crossed the border near Franklin, Vermont, but was forced back quickly and again arrested.

Red River (1870): Colonel Garnet Wolseley led an expedition to Fort Garry, leaving Toronto on 14 May and reaching Fort Garry on 24 August. They quelled the Red River Rebellion and also helped avert a Fenian Raid on Manitoba.

Historical notes

  • The medal was authorized in January 1899, 29 years after the last event it commemorated.
  • There were 16,668 of the medals awarded, always with bars. Of these, 15,300 were awarded to Canadian units.
  • The recipient's name, service number, rank, and unit were indented, impressed or engraved on the rim.
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