Canada General Service Medal, with bars for Fenian Raid 1866, Fenian Raid 1870 & Red River, awarded to Pvt. E. H. Harris 1899Image["Canada General Service Medal, 1899"]
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with veilImage["Canada General Service Medal, 1899"]
Reverse, Canadian flag surrounded by a maple wreath
Canada General Service Medal, 1899
Colonial Canada's nineteenth-century history did not lack for secessionist movements, all ultimately unsucessful. One of the more serious threats was that posed by the Fenian Brotherhood, also known as the Irish National Militia, a body which gathered an increasing amount of support in the Northern United States, support which with the end of the American Civil War often came in the form of disbanded military contingents looking for a new war to fight.
Such men were offered their wish by a Fenian self-proclaimed Colonel by the name of O'Neil, who in 1866 used a large force of such men to attempt an invasion of British Canada. The Fenian army was dispersed by a single engagement with Canadian forces and mostly arrested on their return to the USA. O'Neil subsequently attempted the same thing again with equal lack of success twice in 1870, on the latter occasion being arrested before even leaving the USA.
O'Neil's second invasion attempt was partly triggered by a separate rebellion elsewhere. In 1869, the Hudson Bay Territory, which had previously been an independent possession of the chartered Hudson Bay Trading Company, was incorporated into British Canada, the charter having expired.
This caused much local resentment, and a self-proclaimed general by the name of Louis Riel used this to seize the Company's treasury, take over Fort Garry (now in Manitoba) and imprisoned many British residents. A Canadian expedition was sent from Toronto, reaching Fort Garry, 1118 miles away, 3 months later. Riel had already fled and the rising was quickly quelled.
This medal was awarded in 1899 to those who had fought the Fenians in any of these raids or the Red River expedition. This one was awarded to Private E. H. Harris of the Windsor Infantry Company; his entitlement to the Red River clasp is however not confirmed. Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928.