Canada General Service Medal (1866 – 70)

Era: 1866 - 1871

The Canada General Service Medal was a Canadian campaign medal awarded to members of the Imperial and Canadian forces for duties and taking part in the suppression of the Fenian raids and Riel’s First Rebellion (aka the Red River Expedition) between 1866 and 1871. The medal was not issued until January 1899 and had to be applied for only if the recipient had:

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


Materials:      The majority of the British medal and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons (or Ribands). These where first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the ninetieth century progressed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the blue and white strips of the Egypt medal, for example, are said to signify the blue and white Niles, while the red and green ribbon of the Second Afghan War shows the heraldic colours of Great Britain and of Islam. Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.

Ribbon - 32mm, white stripe in the centre, with two red strips on either side

Canada General Service Medal ribbon
Canada General Service Medal ribbon

Type - Campaign Medal

Eligibility -     Imperial and Canadian forces

Awarded for - Campaign service.

Campaign -    Fenian raids and Riel's First Rebellion

Total awarded - 16,668 medals issued, 15,300 to Canadian units

Clasps - 3 issued.

Naming – Several different types including large indented block capitals, indented lower case letters, engraved large or small capitals.

Suspender -    Straight

Description - Silver disk, 36mm diameter, with a swivelling suspension. The Obverse show the veiled, diademed bust of Queen Victoria and the legend ‘VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX’ The reverse depicts the red ensign of Canada surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves with the word CANADA at the top.


Clasps are commonly, though not strictly correctly, also referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is borne nearest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, though they can be found in the wrong order.


    For services related to the Fenian raids of 1866.


    For services related to the suppression of the Red River Rebellion.


    For services related to the Fenian raids of 1870


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major LL Gordon, 'British Battles & Medals

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