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Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  The silver-gilt badge (2 inches wide) is gold in appearance with no enamels and is worn on the left breast.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)


National Orders

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)


The order was established in June 1917. In December 1918, military and civil divisions were established. With the First World War lasting longer than expected and no suitable way to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home and servicemen in support positions, King George V created another order with five levels.

Eligibility and criteria

The first two levels confer knighthood, and since 1935, have not been available to anyone retaining Canadian Citizenship. The other three levels - Commander, Officer and Member - have been available to Canadian citizens. The order could be given generously for services to the Empire at home, in India and in the Dominions and colonies. The order was created mainly to award non-combatant services to the war and was to include women, whom most existing orders excluded. When the order was created in 1917 it had only one division, but was divided into Civil and Military divisions in 1918. The order at any level can be awarded for gallantry as well as for service. The order took an abrupt change in 1937 when the insignia and the colour of the ribbon were changed.


The silver-gilt badge is 2 inches wide, is gold in appearance with no enamels and is worn on the left breast. For mounting, a ring is attached to the top of the crown through which a larger ring passes.

Obverse Original Badge: A cross patonce (four arms with three points on each arm) of silver-gilt with the arms enameled pearl-grey, surmounted by an Imperial Crown. The circular centre, in gold, shows the figure of Britannia, holding a trident and seated beside a shield bearing the national flag. The centre is surrounded by a circular band, enameled crimson and bearing the motto FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE in gold.

Obverse Current Badge (after 1937): As above except that in the centre, in gold, are the crowned effigies of King George V and his consort Queen Mary. Neither the original nor the current OBE and the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) badges are enameled.

The reverse contains a rope circle with the current Royal Cypher, surmounted by an Imperial Crown and with a hallmark on the lower limb.

Original Ribbon: The civil ribbon was purple, 1.5 inches in width. The military ribbon had a narrow central stripe of scarlet added.

Current Ribbon (after 1937): The civil ribbon is rose-pink with pearl-grey edges. The military ribbon has a narrow central stripe of pearl-grey added.


A silver emblem of two oak leaves is worn on the ribbon when the appointment to the order is for gallantry.

Historical notes

  • On 09 March 1937, the insignia and ribbon were changed. After 01 January 1958, gallantry awards were recognized with silver oak leaves.
  • There have been a total of 1,671 OBEs issued to Canadians; 599 civil and 1,072 military.
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