A history of military service dating as far back as 1816 adorns a number of the walls at the Salmon Arm Royal Canadian Legion branch 62.
Straight ahead and to the left from the Legion’s main entrance is a hallway decorated by several large picture frames displaying military medals, ribbons and badges. Next to each frame are legends explaining what each piece is, in some cases who they were donated by and, where applicable, who they were awarded to.
One of the oldest pieces is a Waterloo Medal, which was issued in 1816 and 1817 to every officer of the British Army who took part in the June 1815 battles of Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo, during which the French army under Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the British-led Seventh Coalition.
Several other older medals on display were awarded to those who fought in the Crimean War (1854-56), and the second South African War (October 1889 to May 1902). In addition to these there are numerous medals awarded to individuals from the Shuswap for service in the first and second world wars.
“Most of the ones that are up on the wall are from people that are here from the Salmon Arm area,” said Legion branch 62 member, Canadian Forces veteran and local historian Harry Welton.
The display serves to commemorate those who have served their country and provide a home for the historic hardware where it will be appreciated.
“It’s been going that way for the last few years,” said Welton.
“I’d collected medals and stuff off, and then when I came here they had a whole bunch of medals so we built frames for them and they’re all mounted on the wall with the people’s names on them so their families come in and see them.
“If they ever want them, they can have them back.”
While some of the medals, particularly those made of silver, can go for a very high price, Welton said they tend to be melted down solely for the precious metal. Welton would rather see unwanted medals and badges be preserved for future generations.
For Canadians who may have lost their medals and want them back (assuming they are not on the Legion’s walls), Welton said to contact Veterans Affairs Canada, which is responsible for first issue or replacement medals for those who served in the Second World War, the Merchant Navy and the Korean War. This can be arranged by calling 1-877-741-8332, or by visiting the veterans.gc.ca.
According to the Royal Canadian Legion, if you have tried to obtain replacement medals but have been unsuccessful, or if you are in need of advice on related subjects such as recovering stolen medals, identifying medals, returning found medals to family, or displaying medals, contact the Legion’s Medals Adviser at firstname.lastname@example.org (indicate in the subject line “For Medals Adviser”).