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.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Without Further Comment; Daniel Woolf

A few readers sent us this photo of the now former President of Queen's University, Dr. Daniel Woolf, wearing what appears to be the United Nations Korea War Medal. Given that Dr. Woolf's biography states he was born in 1958, we are not quite sure how he managed to serve in the Korean War with US or Commonwealth troops. 
UN Korea War Medal
Woolf all dressed up with Arthur McDonald, a Companion of the Order of Canada, who also received the Nobel Prize;  it is a bizarre image. This photo was taken in December 2015 with Professor McDonald was presented with his Nobel Prize. 

One can only imagine what the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, who knows a thing or two about medals, thought of the Canadian university administrator parading around with a lone medal he could not have possibly earned. Not exactly an effective way of looking "important" in a auditorium filled with a few Heads of State and some of the most highly honoured/decorated people in the world. Perhaps a university scarf of jersey would have been a more effective way of announcing the crowd "look at me, I'm important too." 

You really shouldn't wear medals you didn't earn, even if you're putting them on the right hand side of your jacket. 


  1. Is it possible that he is wearing the Korean War Medal earned by his mother Margaret M Woolf who served as a nursing officer in Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, stationed initially in Japan, where she cared for Commonwealth troops serving in the Korean War. After all he is wearing it on the right side. And I know wearing such a medal is not in keeping with Canadian law or custom.

  2. Wow that’s some pretty specific info you have there. You may well have identified the reason why Woolf pinned the medal on. The wearing of war medals which you didn’t personally earn is a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada — see section 419. It might just be “symbolic” but a general rule of good citizenship is you don’t break the Criminal Code. Beyond being illegal it is not an appropriate way to honour a relatives military service. The only Canadians who were permitted to commemorate their loved ones in this way were the mothers of those killed in the CEF during World War One. Let’s also remember the event the medal was worn at was a Nobel Prize ceremony and not Remembrance Day.