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1876-dated Dufferin Governor General Medal in Gold. Awarded to the Quebec Curling Club in 1877. Clowery-102, BHM-3028.

1876-dated Dufferin Governor General Medal in Gold. Awarded to the Quebec Curling Club in 1877. Clowery-102, BHM-3028.

10,595.00

22k gold. 99 grams. 51mm. For more than 140 years, the Governor General medal has served as one of the highest honours in Canadian academics and athletics. These medals, awarded in gold, silver, and bronze, are bestowed upon those who graduate at the top of their class, and athletes and sporting clubs that excel in competition. 

The Earl of Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General between 1872 and 1878, started the tradition of awarding prize medals to Canadian students and athletes. 

The earliest memo regarding the medals was put out by the Office of the Governor General’s secretary, H.C. Fletcher, on January 24, 1874:

“Sir, – With the view of encouraging education, His Excellency the Governor General is desirous of presenting annually, during the time he remains in Canada, prizes to some of the principal universities and schools in the Dominion. He proposes to give gold and silver medals to be competed for at universities, and silver and bronze medals at the more important schools.” 

Another memo was distributed to “The Secretaries of the Curling Clubs of the Dominion” on January 30, 1874:

“Sir – I have the honor to forward to you a circular letter containing the conditions of a proposed competition for medals to be given by His Excellency the Governor General, and to request that you will inform me whether the club which you represent will take part in the competition.”

The circular read:

“His Excellency the Governor General, Earl of Dufferin, taking a lively interest in the game of Curling, has decided to give annually, during the time he remains in Canada, a gold medal, to be played for by all the regular Curling Clubs of the Dominion who desire to enter into the competition.

     The game to be played in competing for this medal to be that described in the rules of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club as for local medal competition, but with the special provision that eight are to form the number of players in each Club, and the length of the Rink be that in general use in the Dominion, namely 42 yards from hack to tee. The Club which scores the greatest aggregate number of shots to be the winner of the medal. …

     His Excellency will also give a silver medal to be played for by all the members of the winning club who choose to compete for it in accordance with the rules above referred to … .”

This Dufferin Governor General medal in gold was awarded to the Quebec Curling Club in 1877. The club had previously won the gold medal in 1874. In both years, the silver medal for individual champion was awarded to William Brodie. According to George Stewart’s Canada Under the Administration of the Earl of Dufferin, published in 1878, “His Excellency took great interest in the many curling matches throughout Canada, and indulged in frequent Bonspiels himself, to the delight of other plays of the ‘roaring game,’ who recognized in Lord Dufferin a very keen curler indeed.” Although Dufferin awarded no fewer than 500 medals during his tenure as Governor General, his interest in the sport of curling adds an undeniable personal touch, furthering the importance and appeal of this impressive medal. 

Struck by the Wyon firm in London, the obverse shows the jugate portraits of Lord and Lady Dufferin facing right. The legends reads: EARL OF DUFFERIN K.P. K.C.B. G.C.M.G. GOV. GEN. OF CANADA * COUNTESS OF DUFFERIN * 1876 *. The reverse shows the Dufferin coat of arms surrounded by the inscription PRESENTED ŸBY ŸHIS ŸEXCELLENCY ŸTHE ŸGOVERNORŸ GENERAL. The Latin motto PER VIAS RECTAS (“By Right Ways”) appears on a scroll below the shield.

This large-size medal enjoys reflective fields and noticeable contrast against the raised motifs. Yellow-gold surfaces show noticeable hairlines on the obverse, but these are minimal on the reverse. The edge is engraved QUEBEC CURLING CLUB 1877. Originally, the medal would have been awarded with a blue ribbon attached. The area at 12 o’clock where the clasp is missing shows signs of damage and repair, including a hole plugged on the edge above RL in CURLING. The rim appears to be filed at 7 o’clock on the obverse and the corresponding area on the other side.

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