If this looks like the case with the military service honours, it’s because it’s close to that in the sense that these are police service honours.
The three at the top are the last, newest, and most junior of the multi-tiered national service orders, the Order of Merit of the Police Forces. The brainchild of Solicitor-General* Herb Grey, it was created in 2000 to be the Order of Military Merit, but for police.
From left to right, the medals are 2nd, 1st, and 3rd class in the Order: the highest is Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (COM). After that are Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (OOM) and Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (MOM).
The Governor-General is a Commander, the Chancellor, and the livery-collar recipient of the Order. The Order of Merit of the Police Forces also has another person at the top, the “Principal Commander”. This is a title given to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Appointment to the Order is controlled by an advisory committe chaired by the President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. There are 9 other members of the committee:
1. One of the Deputy Commissioners of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
2. The president of the Canadian Police Association
3. A head of a provincial police force (it doesn’t matter which)
4.-6. Three chiefs of municipal or regional police forces (anywhere in Canada)
7.-8. Two people appointed by the Governor-General, and
9. The Deputy Secretary of the Chancellery of Honours.
The two medals on the bottom are awarded for long service, 20 years’ good conduct to be precise. The one on the left is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal, and is the oldest Canadians-only decoration, first given out in 1935.
The red one on the right is the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal, which is awarded for 20 years in a fire department, including 10 years’ work where you were put in harm’s way (career desk jockeys need not apply).
They aren’t shown in this exhibition, but there are actually a series of medals of differing designs and ribbons called “Exemplary Service Medal”, with the same requirements as this one. Replacing the red on this ribbon with royal blue would make it for service in local or provincial police forces, while using green would make it for correctional service officers. The Coast Guard Exemplary Service Medal uses a similar design with navy blue, but with a thin white stripe in the centre. The Police Exemplary Service Medal with a thin orange stripe in the centre of each royal blue stripe becomes the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal, and the Peace Officers Exemplary Service Medal has two thin navy blue strips on the outside, followed inward by two thin royal blue stripes, two gold bands and an olive green band in the centre.
* The Solicitor-General of Canada was for a long time the cabinet official in charge of what basically amounted to anyone with a gun who wasn’t in the army: policemen, spies, border guards, prison guards, and so on. The job’s name was changed to “Minister of Public Safety” in 2004. The American equivalent would be the Secretary of Homeland Security. The office’s jobs in Britain are larely filled by the Home Secretary.
These are the Governor-General’s Academic Medal, which have been given out annually since 1873 for the student in Canada with the highest GPA. Each of the medals have a picture of the Governor-General and their spouse on one side, and that GG’s personal coat of arms on the other.
The bronze one at the bottom was from the tenure of Adrienne Clarkson (1999-2005) and is given out to high school students. A different bronze medal is handed out to trade school students.
The silver one in the middle is from Michaelle Jean (2005-2010) and is given to university undergrads, and the golden one on top, from the current GG, David Johnston, is for graduate students.
Today the old InfoCentre building across from Parliament opened a new exhibit, displaying a bunch of medals in Canada’s honours system. As you can see in the photo, they hung banners of some of these medals in the windows.