Governor General Opens Exhibit On Canada’s Honours

August 6, 2012 by Tom MacGregor

The stories of Canadians who achieved extraordinary things have become the subject of a new exhibit in Ottawa opened May 17 by Governor General David Johnston.

The exhibit, From Far And Wide—Honouring Great Canadians, was created by Rideau Hall and occupies space in a former visitors’ centre across from the Parliament Buildings.

Running until November, the exhibit concentrates on Canada’s honours from the Order of Canada to military medals and those that recognize acts of courage. Actual medals are on display and interactive touch screens have been installed for visitors to learn more about the honours and watch interviews with recipients.

“In 1967, Her Majesty the Queen approved the creation of the Canadian Honours System. In that same year, and to coincide with Canada’s centennial, the Order of Canada was created. Since then more than 5,000 Canadians from all walks of life have been appointed to the order,” said Johnston.

“And like the snowflake that symbolizes the order, each member is unique. They are artists whose words, art and music have touched our hearts. They are innovators whose buildings, inventions and designs have left an indelible mark on Canada. They are researchers and big thinkers whose discoveries have saved lives and improved our society in myriad ways.”

Since 1967 more than one million Canadians have been honoured with awards, medals and decorations.

Johnston also referred to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal which is being presented this year to Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their community (First Diamond Jubilee Medals Presented, May/June). Dozens of members of the Order of Canada and recipients of other awards attended the opening.

The exhibit also looks at the Canadian Heraldic Authority which grants armorial bearings for arms, flags and badges using recognized existing arms, native symbols and insignia. The authority, which has existed since 1988, also approves military badges, flags and other insignia of the Canadian Forces.

Also displayed is the royal banner of King George VI, flown at Rideau Hall during the 1939 royal visit.

“I don’t think Canadians know that much about the honours and the people who receive them,” said Gabrielle Lappa, director of honours at Rideau Hall. “There are great stories to tell such as that of [Medal of Bravery recipient] Tamsen Lahnalampi, who I don’t think is 20 years old yet. She rescued two people from drowning while visiting Costa Rica [in 2008]. These are great Canadians. If you ask them, they will tell you they only did what anyone else would do but that is not the case.”

“It is my hope that, through this exhibit, Canadians will be able to learn about our national honours. And when you see someone sporting the snowflake pin or any other of Canada’s honours, take the time to talk with them, to ask them about their contributions and to thank them for what they have done,” concluded Johnston.

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