Over the past decade we have noticed a rampant increase in the number of people who are wearing their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. The cadre of people who flagrantly violate the official rules on how you are supposed to wear your medals ranges from the average veteran right up to current and former Governors General. Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that the higher the rank of the individual the more likely they are to just wear whatever they want, however they want. We like to think of this as “Instant Dictator Syndrome” or self-aggrandizement at its most obvious.

Why do people wear their medals incorrectly? Often it is because they simply do not know any better. If you are one of these people you should consult WEARING ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS which is available from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall. This guide will help you figure out how you are supposed to wear your officially granted orders, decorations and medals.

When it comes to wearing your medals incorrectly the worst offenders tend to be former Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and retired Generals. When these people – all in authority and all surrounded by staff who know better – wear their medals wrong they are obviously suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The attitude accompanied with this most severe condition is “the more medals I wear the more important I will look.”

This simple blog is aimed at revealing the myriad of fellow Canadians who cannot seem to wear their medals correctly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Wild West of Medals: Alberta

It is still difficult to figure out what the deal is with Alberta and the myriad of fake municipal and provincial baubles that the uniform crazed protective services here like to wear. It is as though a police tailor from the Southern USA in the 1970s (aka Boss Hogg's tailor) has been transported to Calgary to sell surplus uniforms, bizarrely coloured ribbons and all sorts of badges to  peace officers. 

Perhaps an informed reader can fill us in on just what the various ribbons are. The fellow pictured here is wearing the Order of St. John, the 2012 Jubilee Medal, the Police Exemplary service Medal, the Alberta Centennial Medal, two of the mystery Alberta Protective Services Medals (both not approved for wear), then AMAZINGLY the Northwest Canada Medal 1885, for fighting against the Riel Resistance/Rebellion (or is it the Royal Red Cross?), then what looks to be the Royal Canadian Humane Association Bravery Medal and the Buganda Order of the Happy Republic? So more than half of this guys group of medals are entirely unapproved and essentially make believe. 
Name that ribbon!

So many pretty colours...
what do they all mean?!
There is of course another uniformed fellow in this photo to the right, wearing some of the same make believe gongs. We hope pointing out this sea of funny ribbons isn't misconstrued as "bullying" especially given the topic of the photo op. 

At least the two guys in the middle of the back row are following the rules. 

UPDATE: We have received a number of comments/emails, and even the link to a guide published by the Alberta Fire Commissioner related to the wearing of the various Alberta and municipal medals. 

The Alberta Emergency Services Medal has not been approved by the Governor General/ Government of Canada, nor has it been approved for wear alongside official national honours. If it had been approved it would be on the Governor General's website list and it is not. 

There are only two Alberta related medals approved for wear -- despite the bizarre fantasy set out by the Alberta Fire Commissioners's "Guidelines." The medals approved for wear on the left side along with official national honours are:
1) the Alberta Order of Excellence;
2) the Alberta Centennial Medal.

If the medal does not appear on the list of Orders, Decorations and Medals approved by the Chancellery of Honours, via a Federal Order in Council, then you CANNOT wear it not he left hand side along with official Orders, Decorations and Medals. It doesn't matter what the Alberta Fire Commissioner writes in a guide or proclaims when it comes to the wearing of honours on the left side. For things worn on the right side of a Firefighter's uniform in Albert then of course the Fire Commissioner can make up whatever rules he or she likes, just not for the left side where official honours are worn.

Just because something which is incorrect and in violation of an Order in Council is published as a PDF online doesn't make it correct, right or legal. It is a bit bizarre to have the Alberta Fire Commissioner openly violating a Federal Order in Council; 1998-591 in this case, the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive. 


  1. You might be interested in this instruction ( that includes the following statements providing direction on the wearing of medals in Alberta for a particular organization: All medals recognized by the Chancellery in Ottawa, miniature medals and ribbon bars should be
    worn on the left side of chest. Insignia of any unofficial orders, civil medals issued by local
    authorities, or decorations may be worn on the left or right side of chest.
     The Alberta Fire Commissioner may issue and approve other medals that may be worn on the left
    or right side of chest (as per instructions from the Governor General’s Office, September 2014).
     All orders, medals and decorations are to be worn in the order of precedence. For instance, the
    Alberta Emergency Service Medal award is to be worn to the left of all federal honours (i.e., Fire
    Service Exemplary Medal and other Chancellery recognized medals).

  2. Has the Alberta Emergency Service Medal been approved by the GG?

  3. Steve Hutchings beat me to it, yes you can wear the Emergency Services Medal but to the left of any federal medals and I believe you can wear it on either side. The Wikipedia page on Orders, decorations and medals (I know, but it's not horribly sourced) states "The Canadian provinces each have their own internal honours system, though they differ in some ways from their federal counterpart. British Columbia was the first to create a provincial honour in 1953. However, after the establishment of the Canadian honours system in 1967, other provinces moved to initiate their own systems after the federal government refused to do so on their behalf. An agreement was eventually reached around 1990 on the placement of the provincial honours in the Canadian order of precedence for orders, decorations, and medals.".

    Just because the medal wasn't achieved from a Military Tour, doesn't make it any less valid or important. There's a lot of push back from Military folks like yourself that shame people for wearing non military medals. Don't get me wrong, earning a medal for military valor is of the highest honor, but I think it's important for people to show pride in their achievements.

  4. Guy on the far right is legit. No fakes has seen a fair bit in his service to Canada.

  5. Wow. Did the writer of this “article” make any determination if any of the orders and decorations are from another country as they appear to be properly to the right or bottom of the Canadian awards. “What pretty colours” seems like an incredibly ignorant statement.