Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fine example of 19th century Canadian silver.

PRESENTED
TO
THE ONTARIO RIFLE
ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO
BY
His Excellency
The Lieut Governor
and awarded
TO
Ensign R Dillon
34th Batt
AS SECOND PRIZE
AGGREGATE SCORES
1871

Silver Presentation Cup - Capt. R Dillon, 1870
Orig. cup - Size - 23 cm - 355 grams
Found - Sutton, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

We shall never know for which elite shooting event that Captain Dillon was awarded this fine trophy. As is common, trophies which were commissioned before a winner is declared were often given blank - like the original 1885 North West Canada campaign medals. Through a common oversight it was never inscribed. But its provenance is bullet-proof, as it were...

Silver Plate Presentation Cup - c 1880
Orig. cup - Size - 26 cm
Found - Sutton, ON





Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

PRESENTED
BY
His Excellency
Baron Lisgar Governor-General
of the
Dominion of Canada
TO THE
Ontario Rifle Association
AND AWARDED TO
Capt. R Dillon
34th Batt
AS FIRST PRIZE
AGGREGATE SCORES
1871

Sheet Music, Siege of Ladysmith - 1900
Orig. plate - Image Size - 23 cm
Found - Eugene, OR

This is a fine example of Canadian silver, featuring an exquisitely crafted ring of maple leaves.

Lord Lisgar was the second Governor-General of Canada, from 1869-1972; John A Macdonald considered him the best of the many he served with. But no wonder the Baron presented this shooting trophy; during his term in office Canada experienced the Red River Rebellion of Louis Riel, and the Fenian Invasions. When Canadians wanted to hang the captured Yankee invaders, on the spot, he sent a stern warning and insisted on leniency for the Irish rebels who were trying to attack Canada because of the civil rights abuses Britain was imposing on their Irish homeland.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

PRESENTED BY
Hon John Dryden
Minister of Agriculture
to the
34th Batt Rifle Association
Oct 25th 1895

Silver Plate Presentation Cup - 1895
Orig. pitcher - Size - 26 cm
Found - Sutton, ON

Capt. Dillon won this huge trophy three years in a row after it was introduced in 1895.

They just gave it to him after that; no other names appear on its base.

The sharpshooting militiamen right, are engraved on the back of the cup.

 

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005
Only once in a lifetime will you ever come across a collection of medals and trophies - all inscribed to one man - that completely reflects the fragile nature of Canada's first fifty years of nationhood.

Such is the memorabilia lot that once belonged to Canadian militiaman extraordinaire Captain R Dillon, who resided in Oshawa, Ontario, during Canada's transition from colony to Dominion.

His 11 medals - many inscribed with his name - five uniform flashes, one welcome ribbon, and four shooting trophies - also inscribed with his name - span the years 1860-1904, and parallels the evolution of Canada from fragile Dominion to stable and respected Nation.

During the first half of the nineteenth century Canadians lived in constant fear of attacks from Americans - much as Muslim and Arab nations are today. And with good reason; it actually occurred during the War of 1812-14, the Rebellions of 1837-1838, and the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870.

The threat was deemed so real that the British Government built the colossal Fort Henry and the Martello Towers in Kingston, Quebec, and Halifax in the early 19th century, as protection from possible American attacks.

In fact the Canadas, East and West, were cut loose as a self-sufficient Dominion in 1867 because it was felt that as a weaker independent power it would be less liable to an American attack than as a British Colony.

The British Army and Navy, however continued to be the mainstay of Canada's defence forces with a major presence in Esquimalt , British Columbia, Quebec City, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

RF Dillon grew up in this volatile period, in the Oshawa area of Ontario, when it was still part of Canada West, a colony of Great Britain. But as settlement expanded, along with the fear of American aggression, so did the Canadian militia of part time soldiers who trained in the summer to serve as real soldiers should the call to repel an American attack ever come.

In this volatile period, marksmanship - already valued by farmers to shoot game and birds for the family larder - was a universally prized talent that was promoted as a civic skill of use in defending the nation.

Governors-General and Lieutenants-Governor, no less, got involved...

The best shots were celebrated and highly praised with trophies and medals at yearly competitions.

R Dillon was one such militiaman who literally grew up with Canada, being a very young man when he won his first medal in 1860.

 

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Victorian/Edwardian Medals & Trophies - 4

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Victorian Sharpshooter, Capt. R Dillon, Canadian Militia - 1860-1904

 

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Campaign Medals, Capt. Dillon, Canadian Militia - 1866-1885
Orig. medals - Size - full
Found - Sutton, ON
Prov - Captain Dillon Collection
Some of the treasure trove of medals and cups that has been preserved as a group since owned by Captain Dillon, of the 34th Regiment, Oshawa, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting Medals, Capt. R Dillon, Canadian Militia - 1860-1904

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
National Rifle Association Medal - 1860
Orig. copper - Size - 48 mm
A large and heavy medal showing a British longbowman from medieval times, and the militiaman taking over in 1860, the year after the NRA was founded in England.
Second Marksman, Oshawa Infantry Co. - 1864
Orig. silver - Size - 36 mm
In 1864 he was probably picked as the number two man on a shooting team.
Oshawa Infantry Co. Champion Marksman Medal - 1864
Orig. silver - Size - 39 mm
Title inscribed around edge of medal
Surrounding Britannia, her battle flags, and the British lion, are the pride of the Canadian militia glowering defensively against any intruder - read US Northern Army that is in the midst of a Civil War, busy trying to corral the Confederacy while harassing British shipping on the high seas.
Dominion of Canada Rifle Association Medal - 1868
Orig. silver - Size - 45 mm
In 1868, one year after Confederation, Dillon received this large and heavy medal to commemorate the founding of the DCRA whose aim was to promote and encourage good marksmanship because of the imminent departure of the British garrisons (most had left by 1871) and because of the Fenian Raids in 1866 and 1871.
Ontario Rifle Association Medal - 1878
Orig. silver - Size - 30 mm

It is highly likely that this is the Wimbledon Team Medal awarded to Canada's best shooters who went to the annual Imperial Meeting to test their skills against the best in the world. We know that Captain Dillon went to Wimbledon/Bisley; we just don't know in what year.

In 1878, Captain Dillon received this handsome beribboned medal from the Ontario Rifle Association, which had been sending shooting teams to England since 1873. It has a clasp inscribed London RC, where the rifle competitions were held in England.

It is highly likely that Captain Dillon wore this on his tunic when he went west with the North West Field Force in 1885. The ribbon shows more usage, by far, than any of his other service medals, which of course, were not issued till he returned from the West

North West Field Force Tyro Medal - 1885
Orig. silver - Size - 36 mm
A sterling silver Tyro - a beginner - medal belonging to Captain Dillon. The background on this medal is unknown.

The North West Field Force, 1885

In 1885, like many militiamen from Ontario, Captain Dillon went west, to put down the Métis and Indian resistance, as a member of the North West Field Force, joining the 7th Fusiliers out of London, Ontario.

Left, Captain Dillon's boat, floating to the scene of conflict, down the South Saskatchewan River, May, 1885.

Below excerpts from the diary of Alexander Campbell, a regimental and painter/diarist friend of Captain Dillon's.

Swift Current May 8th - "A Rifle Match was arranged (with the Halifax Provisional Battalion) but did not materialize because we were ordered to the front before we had an Opportunity to pull it off. They would likely have beaten us on the ranges as their Battalion contained several men who had been on the Canadian Wimbledon Team, and therefore among the best shots in Canada., while we had but one - Capt. Dillon - who had been across to the big show..." May 9th - first day's march out of Swift Current - "While resting we noticed a slough about 600 yards away with a large number of ducks on it. Capt. Dillon and the writer took a little practice in judging distance with the remote chance of getting some ducks, We fired 3 or 4 shots each, got the range all right, and on investigation found that we had killed or wounded three birds which we were able to use later on."
Harold Lothrop Borden Shooting Medal - 1900
Orig. copper - Size - 47 mm
Absolutely Fabulous: A rare, large, and heavy medal struck by Frederick Borden, the Minister of Militia under Prime Minister Laurier, in honour of his son killed in action during the Boer War. It commemorates Canada's most famous casualty of that War.
The metal composition of medals above varies, and subject to the following:

Copper is a relatively soft metal easily transformed with a hammer. If you plan to cast the metal, like for sculptures, then an alloy of copper must be used, by adding other metals to the mix.

Most cast sculpture is made of bronze or brass.

Bronze is a copper alloy which includes tin.

Brass is a copper alloy which includes zinc.

These shooting medals, covering the years 1860 to 1904, show that, for the Victorian Canadian militiaman, the pursuit of shooting skills lasted a lifetime.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded in England in 1859, with Queen Victoria firing the opening shot at Wimbledon Common, where annual meets were to take place over the next 30 years. Its motto Sit Perpetuum.

The Dominion of Canada Rifle Association (DCRA) was founded in 1868, because defending the Dominion with local militiamen took on a new urgency what with the British regulars gradually leaving Canada, and wild Fenians shooting and invading across the border with the US. From 1873 on, Canadians had gone to Wimbledon, to compete annually with members of the Ontario Rifle Association leading the way. In 1878 - according to a medal in his collection - Captain Dillon probably was selected to go to England and shoot for Canada.

By 1890 the Imperial Meet was moved from Wimbledon to Bisley where it remains today. Princess Alexandra fired the opening shot at the first Bisley meet, like her mother-in-law had done 30 years before at Wimbledon. The Imperial Meetings in July continue to be world famous.

In the 1890s Capt. Dillon was a member of the CMR League. He had this large crests embroidered with gold thread and then put on his jacket. They are dated 1895, 1896, and 1898.

At the bottom is a fat padded badge entitled Bisley 1904. He probably attended perhaps as an official.

Only a very few Canadians are good enough to be invited to compete there.

It must have been the highlight of his career as there are no more badges, medals, or trophies after that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting Trophies, Capt. R Dillon, Canadian Militia - 1870-1897

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Captain Dillon Campaign Medals