Introduction

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 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. I 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, December 5, 2010

Why wear unofficial medals Colonel Ethell?

As noted in my post of November 16, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, His Honour, Colonel (ret) Donald Ethell has been spotted sporting two unofficial medals in his layered group of miniatures. Given that this retired officer has legitimately earned 17 medals (in his mini group) one has to wonder why he has resorted to puffing up his group with two Veterans Association ersatz medals that you purchase for $150.00+ from a company in Denmark. Even the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association website directs its members who purchase these souvenirs NOT to wear or mount them with their official medals. Quote;
“The Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA) does not approve nor condemn the purchase and wearing of private commemorative medals and other insignia by its members. However, CPVA members should exercise good judgement regarding the sentimental value of these unofficial commemoratives versus the greater value of the official service decorations which they wear in public. These medals and devices are not recognized by the Government of Canada and are not listed in the official order of precedence. Members are hereby advised that such commemorative devices are to be worn over the right breast only and may not be juxtaposed with official service medals or affixed to the ribbons thereof. Members are further advised to consult the official website of the Governor-General of Canada.
It has been rumoured that Colonel Ethell is soon to be made an honorary Colonel in the CF. I wonder if there is an RSM out there who will be brave enough to confront Ethell on his host of errors in wearing Canadian orders, decorations and medals?

Several readers from Alberta have expressed the view that their Lieutenant Governor just doesn't care about the rules. I have no idea if this is the reality of the situation, however in the New Year the plan is to send this blog out to a few media outlets -- it seems that public attention to the total lack of respect for the regulations governing the wear of Canadian medals is the only tool we have to get this erstwhile Colonel/Lieutenant Governor to follow the rules... rules that he spent a highly successful career in the service of his country following. Sadly Ethell's knowledge and regard for what is proper (in terms of wearing medals) appears to have evaporated in civilian life.

Positive Signs

Since this blog made its debut we have seen a significant improvement in the way some public figures wear their medals. Of course we cannot prove that this improvement is on account of the "Wearing Your Medals Wrong Blog" but with more than 6,000 hits now, it seems likely that at least some offenders have been informed of their newfound notoriety.  In the Vice-Regal report card issued on October 24 the Lieutenant Governors of Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, along with former Governor General Jean were given less than stellar marks. It is not believed that Mme. Jean has worn her medals since leaving office, but her predecessor Adrienne Clarkson, a long time medal wearing rule offender, was spotted at the Vimy Dinner in Ottawa wearing her medals CORRECTLY!

All is correct.
Continuing on the positive side, Lieutenant Governor Steven Point of British Columbia has greatly improved, and there have been no additional photos of the Lieutenant Governor Mayanne Francis of Nova Scotia wearing one medal on the right and one on the left with her provincial order hung too low (see post of October 9). It seems as though the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and Major General Richard Rohmer are lost causes. Readers who have ideas of how to get these highly-decorated and accomplished individuals to follow the rules are encouraged to email them in. Perhaps in 2011 will see more public figures following the rules.
Why wear the CC lapel pin?

The Governor General has been spotted "doubling up" on honours by wearing his CMM, medal bar and Order of Canada lapel pin. While this is a relatively minor infraction, it should be dealt with as wearing a Order's lapel pin with other full size or miniature insignia is improper.

A few readers have sent me photos taken on Remembrance Day, I encourage others to do so in advance of a posting on the subject.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Steven Point: Getting it right!

Perfect!

We are very pleased to note that His Honour the Honourable Steven Point seems to have begun wearing his orders, decorations and medals correctly. This is great news and it is hoped that he will continue this trend so that we can let past errors slip into the background.  While Point is not wearing his Golden Jubilee Medal on the Lieutenant Governor's uniform we are more than willing to overlook this very minor error in favour of the fact he has everything else correct in these photos. There are other photos of recent events showing this Lieutenant Governor wearing his medals correctly. Excellent work! If this continues BC will have a Lieutenant Governor who is A+ in the medal wearing department by the New Year. Sadly the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta has continued his assault on the traditions and rules of proper deportment when wearing medals. Soon to be posted, "wonderful" photos taken during Remembrance Day in Toronto.

Alberta Again: It is getting worse

The Honourable Donald Ethell has found yet more ways to wear his orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. In this photo he is wearing his trademark two neck insignia, accompanied by his double rowed miniatures including two unofficial awards, and his Order of St. John breast star. You are not supposed to wear miniatures during the day and it is not a Canadian tradition to layer miniature medals. In addition to this you are not supposed to wear the breast star of the Order of St. John on a business suit (even then it is way too high!). A link to this blog was emailed to the Lieutenant Governors staff, no response as of yet. This is one of the best examples of "How NOT to wear your medals" that Canada has. Even Richard Rohmer has not gone this far.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Steven Point: November's Offender of the Month!

Miniature medals are in the wrong place, just look at the
Aide de Camp to see where they should be worn. 
Every month we select an "Offender of the Month." The first recipient of this ignominious honour was the Honourable Don Ethell, alas even his many errors in wearing orders, decorations and medals have been surpassed by the Honourable Steven Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. It is obvious that Mr. Point is totally clueless when it comes to wearing his medals or a CF uniform for that matter. It would seem that the only solution to this problem is for Mr. Point to cease wearing his medals and to also cease wearing his CF uniform.  I cannot imagine any other member of the Canadian Forces who has found so many ways to wear every order of dress incorrectly. It is embarrassing that a member of the Senior Service continuously flaunts the CFP 265 when in uniform.

Above is a  great example of His Honour wearing mess dress with his various accoutrements as "fashion accessories." First off the dress instructions are clear; miniatures are worn 1 cm below the notch of the lapel, not in the middle of the chest. Point seems to have done this to accommodate his Lieutenant Governor's Badge, which is not approved for wear on any CF uniform. Why didn't the Aide de Camp included in this photo not correct Captain(N) Point? Too caught in the magic of the moment no doubt.

Two neck gongs at a time.
Sadly the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia has also been spotted  following the "two neck gong" fashion. All this in violation of the rule that you are only allowed to wear one neck insignia at a time in civilian attire.

At least in this photo Mr. Point has managed to wear the correct ribbons on each of his neck insignia! It is not even worth speculating on the mystery medal worn on the right side in this photo.

Several readers have flooded me with photos galore, too many to post here. Unfortunately 8 times out of 10 Point is wearing his medals incorrectly. When in CF uniform Captain(N) Point has only managed to get things right 1/10th of the time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5,000 Hits

Over the past month this blog has received more than 5,000 hits. Although not overwhelmed with emails from readers, there have been some very useful notes, comments and photos.

A few readers have extolled displeasure with the tone and overall message of the blog. Comments such as "just correct the various offenders with a letter or phone call" have been expressed by several people. Long before this blog was even conceptualized I tried that approach; polite simple letters and emails explaining what is wrong and how to correct the situation along with a photo of the problem and a diagram of how to fix it. In a few cases I received replies, but in most there was not even an acknowledgement.

The Hon. Don Ethell. Layering of miniatures is not a Canadian practice.
The last 2 medals Ethell is wearing are unofficial "assocation" awards
and shouldn't be worn with official honours.
One senior officer wrote to offer some very constructive criticism and comment, all which was greatly appreciated. Less helpful notes have accused me of being a self righteous bastard. I find this more amusing than annoying. Rules exist directing us on how to wear our medals, they are not opinions or suggestions offering advice on how an individual “may” decide to wear their medals, they are rules. If Lieutenant Governors, Honorary Colonels, Honorary Captains(N) and brass hats of all types are incapable of wearing their orders, decorations and medals correctly then it only sends the worst sort of signal to the average Canadian. The people featured in this blog have all risen to high position through making important contributions to their province and country. Nevertheless these contributions do not give them a license to “ignore the rules” or to use their medals as fashion accessories. One cannot help but wonder why they feel they are above the rules that the rest of us are subject to.

More BC Follies

At a distance all looks fine, but wait,
what is that he is wearing around his neck?
An observant reader sent this photo of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. All looks fine from a distance, but His Honour is wearing the ribbon of his Order of British Columbia with the neck badge of his Order of St. John. It ceases to amaze me, and many blog followers, the many and sundry ways in which The Honourable Steven Point has managed to wear his orders, decorations, medals and Canadian Forces uniform incorrectly.
The Order of St. John worn with the ribbon of
 the Order of British Columbia
Full size medals with lapel pins?  Where is his OBC?
Mr. Point seems to like the mix and match approach.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Hon. Steven Point, ruler of the land where the Lieutenant Governor can dress up any old way

Ribbons upside down, where is his aiguilette
and where is his head-dress?
Several readers have sent me images of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, His Honour the Honourable Steven Point, wearing his various insignia and CF uniform in completely non-sensical ways. It is depressing to see someone in such a high position wearing his various orders and medals  in completely the wrong way. Often he is seen with just a neck insignia, or his neck insignia worn like an sporting medal around the neck without a shortened ribbon, miniatures during the day and the list of errors goes on and on. Thankfully many of the errors have been preserved in photographs.

Ribbons clearly in the wrong order. Upside-down!








A grey undershirt -- it should be white?
Where is his aiguillette?
Ribbons upside down again,
where is his aiguillette, and he
 shouldn't be wearing the
Lieutenant Governor Badge
For members of the CF take heed that this Lieutenant Governor is completely ignorant of CF dress regulations -- he has repeatedly been seen with his ribbons on backwards (upside down), wearing the wrong colour undershirt (grey instead of white), failing to wear his aiguilette, and failing to wear head-dress outdoors. Unfortunately His Honour looks like the Captain Kangaroo of the Canadian Navy. Where is an overly officious CPO when you need one! Just peruse the gallery of photos to take in the full magnitude of this Lieutenant Governor's total inability to wear a CF uniform or medals.

Investiture length ribbons are fine for those who were just awarded the OBC,
but NOT for the Lieutenant Governor. He has had almost 3 years to shorten the length of his ribbon, nevertheless he persists with the olympic style ribbon.  
Miniatures during the day? Where is his neck badge for the OBC or  Order of St. John?
What is the mystery medal at the neck,
why is this man's Jubilee Medal being worn in the armpit?
The photos tell the story, these are not one time mistakes, but habitual errors. One is left to ask why no one has corrected Mr. Point. This photo of Point in the civil uniform is a travesty. He is wearing some mystery medal or piece of jewellery at the neck, then his Order of St. John, Order of British Columbia and his Golden Jubilee Medal is supposed to be worn on the breast, not in the armpit. Don't Lieutenant Governors have advisors and Aides de Camp to advise them on how NOT to look like complete fools when in public? I don't quite understand why he needs to wear the Lieutenant Governors badge when he is wearing the Lieutenant Governors Uniform, this would be like pinning additional rank badges onto a CF uniform. At least he seems to be having a good time in this last shot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Poor Alberta


The Hon. Don Ethell


Earlier today I received this photo from a reader, it is perhaps the worst one yet of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. Quite aside from the ridiculous looking beret bedecked with the sort of souvenir patch you get at those touristy shops in Banff to sew on your backpack, here is another photo of Colonel (ret) Ethell wearing two neck insignia simultaneously (which is against the rules in civilian attire) and his trademark medal bar -- twice the regulation length. As a former CF member and a Colonel he certainly knows how to wear his medals correctly, so there is no excuse. If public discussion is the only way to get people to follow the rules then I think we have found our new project.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Do's and Don'ts of Remembrance Day

That time of year when we gratefully acknowledge the contribution made to Canada by those who have served in the military is upon us. It is always helpful to review the do's and don'ts of Remembrance Day -- these rules are useful throughout the year.


First off, you CANNOT wear the medals of a deceased relative -- EVER! If you do you are breaking the Law and you can be fined or go to jail under Section 419-10 of the Criminal Code of Canada. 


Next, only wear official national honours on the left, and if you have association medals or other unofficial or unrecognized awards they can only be worn on the right side. The Royal Canadian Legion seems to have done a solid job of ensuring that most of its members wear their Legion Medals on the right side, and their official national honours on the left. 
Mr. Chadderton, a good example,
real medals on left,
 unofficial ones of the right.
Sadly, over the years some veterans have "enhanced" their groups of medals by adding a variety of unofficial (dare I say totally fake) medals. Such "fake medals" have been struck by various companies in the UK for all sorts of military operatsions that were never individually recognized by a separate medal. For instance there is a "Battle of Britain Medal" issued by some private mint in Britain. Just mail in your 35 pounds and say that you are entitled to this gem and it arrives in the mail. Never mind the fact that if you had really served in the Battle of Britain you would have almost certainly received the 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Bar. If you want to see the myriad of "awards" click here


Mounting these fake medals in with official national honours is a violation of Order-in-Council 1998-591, which prohibits this sort of self-agrandizement. More evidence of the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. Now some readers may be of the mindset that  "this person served Canada in the Second World War, Korea or in the Cold War, who are we to go after them for adding something." Well, the fact is that their contemporaries didn't dress up their medal groups with "fake medals," if they were serving members of the CF they would be charged for wearing "fake medals" and it is just patently wrong to engage in this sort of behaviour. 


How not to wear your medals
For those of you interested, the bad example is a UK veteran. On the left side, in addition to his 39-45 Star, Atlantic Star and 39-45 War Medal he has added the Dunkirk Medal (unofficial), and the Atlantic Convoy Medal (unofficial). His right breast is decorated with two Russian awards (one of which is almost certainly approved for wear in the UK for members of the Royal Navy who were involved in the northern convoys) the other two are indistinguishable

An Inauspicious Beginning

Where is H.E.'s CC?
A number of readers sent me photos of His Excellency the Governor General receiving the first poppy of the year in advance of Remembrance Day. While His Excellency was wearing his medal bar, he was not wearing any neck insignia, when in fact he should have been wearing his CC or CMM. It could be that he simply forgot to put it on when dressing, but this is a thin excuse. 

This is the sort of thing any half competent Aide de Camp or member of the Rideau Hall staff should have noticed. Let us hope this is not repeated -- it would be a real shame if Mr. Johnston was to adopt the attitude of one of his predecessors who patently refused to wear medals other than an infrequent display of his CC (see photo below for a clue of who it was). These sorts of things are not terribly complex and require only minor attention to detail. At the installation ceremony a month ago he was properly dressed with CC at the neck and medal bar on his breast. 

Even the CC was rarely worn.
Surely when you are appointed Governor General someone takes the time to explain that you are going to have to wear dress clothes much of the time and you will also have to wear medals on many occasions. As President of the University of Waterloo His Excellency regularly wore his academic gown on the appropriate occasions, so the transition from "academic garb" to "state garb" should be a natural one. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vice-Regal Report Card

Duchesne, a good example
As a number of the Queen's representatives seem to have difficulty wearing their orders, decorations and medals correctly I thought it a good idea to put together a little report card. These various officials have all been graded on the basis of how they wear their medals -- for some it is an easy test. For the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec we give an automatic pass. Poor M. Duchesne has no medals to wear, so he could hardly wear them incorrectly. The Lieutenant Governors of Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Newfoundland and New Brunswick get an "A" for they all seem to be wearing their insignia correctly. Governor General David Johnston also gets an "A" for wearing his CC and two commemorative medals correctly. Saskatchewan gets an "A+" as Lieutenant Governor Barnhardt has done a stellar job of wearing his various insignia.
Lee, another good example
Lieutenant Governor Francis of Nova Scotia gets a "B-" for wearing her Order of Nova Scotia like an olympic athlete. A harsher grade has not been assigned as she does not seem to make this error often, at least not in photos on the web.
The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Mr. Point gets a "D-" for wearing the wrong insignia and incorrect insignia on mess dress, not to mention wearing insignia in the wrong order. Let us hope that the Crown's representative in BC will cease breaking CF dress regulations!
Former Governor General Michaelle Jean gets an "F" for the many and bizarre ways which she wore her orders, decorations and medals -- going so far as to wear the wrong insignia on at least one occasion!
Lieutenant Governor Ethell of Alberta receives very special "F-" for wearing two neck insignia simultaneously and for wearing a medal bar that is more than twice the length authorized by the CF dress instructions.

To the bottom of the class; NS, BC, AB and former GG Jean, when will you people learn you cannot just wear your medals any old way? !!! Some of you are setting a terrible example. No one really cares that you hold a high position if you look like a trumped up dictator -- Instant Dictator Syndrome seems most serious with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta who is verging on a terminal case of Instant Dictator Syndrome, the likes we have not seen since Richard Rohmer wore three neck orders with his mess kit!



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Major General Richard Rohmer, A Man of Many Modes of Dress... Most of them Wrong

Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the OPP
It appears as though our dear friend Richard Rohmer -- soon to the poster-child of this blog -- has invented all sorts of amazing ways to wear his many orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. This has to be one of the most hilarious photos ever taken of someone wearing their insignia incorrectly. It is as though Rohmer is attempting to compete with the likes of Idi Amin and Jean Bedel Bokassa in his mode of dress. This is truly embarrassing. Under no circumstances are you supposed to wear three neck insignia while in mess dress. It is impractical and it looks absolutely bizarre.  This is the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome gone wild. I can't say I understand why a hero of the RCAF with a DFC and all would go to such great lengths to look the head of a certain Axis air force c. 1944. Let us hope that Lieutenant Governor Ethell of Alberta doesn't see this photo or he might start wearing 3 neck badges!


Sadly it gets worse. Here we have Rohmer wearing the uniform of a Major General. Can you spot the problems? Some are more obvious than others. You can't really see it but here Rohmer is again wearing three neck insignia, all in violation of the CF Dress Instructions(CFP-265), but it gets worse. See that little badge above Rohmer's wings? That is the Aide de Camp cypher for an ADC to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. It is supposed to be worn on the shoulder, under the second maple leaf of his Major General's rank, it is not supposed to be worn on the upper part of the breast, this too is in violation of the CF Dress Instructions.

I have saved the most glaring offence for last. Beside his Distinguished Flying Cross Rohmer is wearing the insignia of a Officer of the Order of St. John. He is not an Officer of the Order of St. John, he is a Knight of Justice of the Order, so he is wearing a medal that he is not entitled to. This is in violation of Order-in-Council 1998-591 and the Statutes of the Order of St. John which clearly explain you can only wear the grade of the Order that you are entitled to.

As with Mrs. Haverstock, Rohmer has substituted a lower grade of an Order all so that he can wear an extra medal on his medal bar, having run out of room around his neck. This is truly embarrassing. Given that Rohmer has not been an Officer of the Order of St. John since 1983 when he was promoted to Commander of the Order, he can hardly claim that he just hasn’t had time to get his medals remounted!   

As an esteemed lawyer and one of Her Majesty's Council Learned in the Law (he is a QC) you would think that Rohmer would be adverse to breaking a federal Order-in-Council and the statues of the Order of St. John.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Hon. Gordon Barnhardt, SOM. A MODEL LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Discourage by my expose of Vice-Regal office holders wearing their medals incorrectly a reader emailed me this photo. It is of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan wearing his insignia correctly! Saskatchewan Order of Merit around the neck with his medal bar on the left breast and his Vice Regal badge above. Bravo Lieutenant Governor Barnhardt! If you look closely you will see that His Honour's SOM is worn on a miniature ribbon, and it should be worn on a full length one, however this is a very minor infraction.


Michaelle Jean, CC, CMM, COM, CD

Excellent work, everything is correct!
While Adrienne Clarkson pioneered new and improper ways to wear orders, decorations and medals her successor Mme. Jean took this creativity to new heights. It is worth noting at the outset that orders and medals are NOT fashion accessories, yet Mme. Jean regularly viewed them as such. There is evidence that she knew how to wear her various insignia correctly, but these instances became quite rare as her tenure as Governor General drew to a close. Here we have a nice picture of Mme. Jean and her husband wearing their insignia correctly.


As the mandate dragged on Lafond almost completely ceased wearing his Order of Canada, perhaps he felt embarrassed that he collected one of Canada's highest honours for civil achievement through the accident of marriage (why the spouse of the Governor General gets a free CC makes little sense to me, but that is another issue altogether). 


Where is Mme. Jean's Order of Canada?
Here we have Mme. Jean on a state visit to Norway. Everyone in this photo is wearing their insignia, Jean can be seen wearing her CC around the neck... like an Olympic athlete, but no miniatures. I guess they just didn't go with the attire she chose to wear. All of Mme. Jean's female predecessors managed to wear their CC insignia with regularity, and especially when abroad. Despite this it is nice to see Lafond in white tie and tales. 


Make up your own caption for this photo!
This next photo illustrates the most common mode of dress for Mme. Jean when she attended events with veterans. Order of Canada around the neck, Commander of the Order of Military Merit on a bow, medal bar below. She doesn't seem to have been able to decide between a bow or neck ribbon so she is wearing both -- which is against the rules for wearing Canadian orders, decorations and medals. So much for setting an example! One can only speculate on what the PM is saying to Jean "Who the Hell dresses you? You look like a Christmas tree with all that stuff on, and why are you wearing an Imperial German Hussars overcoat on Remembrance Day!"



Where is her CMM and DStJ Star?
 Thankfully for Remembrance Day 2009 Mme. Jean abandoned her ersatz German overcoat and dawned a CF uniform. She still managed to break the CF dress regulations as she is not wearing her Commander of the Order of Military Merit (this should be poking out of the top button of her tunic) and she is not wearing the breast star of a Dame of Justice of the Order of St. John (this should be on her left pocket). Also note that Her former Excellency is not wearing her collar badges either! Even a mediocre Aide de Camp should have spotted the missing insignia. 


Lastly we have a photo of Mme. Jean wearing miniatures. This is great, aside from the fact that this photo was taken in the middle of the day -- and you don't wear miniatures during the day. Photos taken following a recent Order of Canada investiture reveal Jean wearing her miniatures on a 45 degree angle to follow the collar of her dress, more treatment of honours as fashion accessories. Jeanne Sauve would not be impressed!

Lastly we have this gem. Mme. Jean in naval attire wearing her various orders and medals, but what is that breast star? The star of a Dame of Grace of the Order of St. John. The problem is that Jean is a Dame of Justice of the Order of St. John (star is gold with no lions and unicorns between the arms), so here we have a Governor General wearing a insignia that she is not entitled to. All in violation of the Statutes of the Order of St. John. Sadly, as we have already seen Governors General and Lieutenant Governors regularly ignore the rules for wearing Canadian orders, decorations and medals.

For keen readers here is a photo of the star that Mme. Jean should be wearing. Things are in a pretty sad state when a Governor General is going around incorrectly dressed while in CF uniform -- even the Commander-in-Chief of Canada needs to follow the dress regulations.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Hon. Donald Ethell, OC, OMM, AOE, MSC, CD OFFENDER OF THE MONTH!

Olympic style neck badges! How many more can he add?
Although this is a new blog, I thought it only fitting to select each month a prime offender of the rules for wearing orders, decorations and medals in Canada. Colonel Ethell is the first winner of this prize. There is no medal associated with this award. We wouldn't want to be responsible for Lieutenant Governor Ethell being forced to commit additional medal wearing errors. 


While he may be the most decorated peacekeeper in Canadian history he doesn't know how to wear his medals at all. First off his medal bar is twice the length allowed by CF regulations. If the Duke of Edinburgh can overlap his medals, surely Colonel Ethell can do the same. Next there is the issue of two neck orders. In civilian attire you are only allowed to wear one at a time, yet this Lieutenant Governor is doubling up, as though he is a recently returned athlete from the Beijing Olympics, wearing all his gold medals. It just looks utterly ridiculous. We all know that Colonels are difficult to control but surely someone can offer this otherwise distinguished Canadian some direction on the proper wearing of his many orders, decorations and medals. You would think that a retired Colonel would be at least peripherally aware of the rules and regulations for wearing his various honours -- especially as they are so plenteous in this case. 

The Hon. Linda Haverstock, CM, SOM

 Just so I do not get accused of picking on representatives of the Crown here is a photo of the former Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. I was quite pleased when I found this photo, however upon closer examination there is a very serious problem.  Yes this is an exception to the rule that you can only wear one order on a bow at a time. In this photo Haverstock was just invested with as a Member of the Order of Canada, no doubt she will have her CM remounted in with her medal bar. Given that she was just presented with the second Order on a bow as part of the investiture this is quite acceptable. But there is a glaring issue with what Haverstock is wearing. As a Lieutenant Governor Haverstock was made a Dame of Grace of the Order of St. John (the insignia consist of a neck badge on a bow and a breast star), but in this photo she is wearing the insignia of an Officer of the Order of St. John on her medal bar. So she is wearing an insignia that she is not entitled to wear at all! This is in violation of the statues of the Order of St. John and also Order-in-Council 1998-591. A subtle case of Instant Dictator Syndrome, but given that the Officer of the Order of St. John insignia is mounted in with her full size medal bar it is quite obviously intentional. 

The Hon. Myra Freeman, CM, ONS

The Hon. Myra Freeman in centre front.
Here is another Lieutenant Governor offender, well she is a former Lieutenant Governor, but she still manages to break all the rules. Here we have a photo of Mrs. Freeman with more Order of Nova Scotia recipients. But what is that beside her Golden Jubilee Medal... it looks a lot like the Australia Defence Force Champion Shot Medal... but I dont' believe that Freeman ever served in the ADF. 
ADF Champion Shot Medal


But no, it is the Corps of Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal... an award that is not sanctioned or approved by the Government of Canada for wear, which means that in this photo Freeman is violating Order-in-Council 1998-591 which clearly states that "7. The insignia or orders, decorations and medals not listed in this Directive, as well as foreign awards the award of which has not been approved by the Government of Canada shall not be mounted or worn in conjunction with the orders, decorations and medals listed in this Directive." While the Corps of Commissionaires Long Service Medal is included in the directive, the Corps of Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal is not included in the Directive. She is breaking a federal regulation. 

    That's not all. There's more! Here is Honorary Captain Navy Freeman dressed up in her CF uniform. She is not only wearing her Vice-Regal Badge (against CF Regs) but what is that ribbon she is wearing after her Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon...she is sporting the ribbon of the Corps of Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal which not only violates Order-in-Council 1998-591, but also the CF dress regs. She is wearing an unauthorized ribbon on a CF uniform. All this aside from her upside down shoulder boards! Where is a Chief when you need one? The buttons, ribbons and bows brigade needs to get after this Captain(N)!


The Hon. Mayanne Francis, ONS

Lieutenant Governors seem to get bad advice when it comes to wearing their medals. This photo depicts Mayann Francis and some recipients of Nova Scotia's provincial Order. She is wearing her Order of Nova Scotia on a ribbon that is too long and I have no idea what she is wearing on the right hand side. Thankfully a survey of more recent photos reveals that the medal on the right is no longer worn, however Francis continues to often wear her Order of Nova Scotia as an olympic medal. How very unfortunate that so many Lieutenant Governors have no clue how to wear the orders, decorations and medals they pick up as a consequence of serving in a vice-regal position.  

Senator Pamela Wallin, OC, SOM

This pair of photos are certainly the most entertaining I have ever come across of an individual wearing their medals incorrectly. Unlike many others posted on this blog, I do not think that Senator Wallin is wearing her insignia incorrectly on purpose or to look "important."   


Wearing one bow on each side is never appropriate. In this photo we have Senator Wallin wearing her Saskatchewan Order of Merit on the right and her Officer of the Order of Canada on the left. You can just see the red and white ribbon of her OC in this photo. Bravo to the Senator for wearing her Orders on bows, but please in future wear only one at a time, and wear it on the left! 


Here we have yet another example of the highly problematic nature of putting civilians into a military uniform. Wallin is wearing only 3 insignia, yet she is wearing all of them incorrectly. Let us start with the easy part. The Golden Jubilee Medal should be court mounted and worn higher and be centred. The Officer of the Order of Canada bow should not be pinned to a neck ribbon, the OC insignia should be unclipped from the bow and put on a neck ribbon that should be worn at the neck (ribbon under the collar of the shirt), the badge should rest just below the knot of the tie. The Saskatchewan Order of Merit should similarly be unclipped from the bow and worn on a short ribbon that protrudes from the top button of the tunic.

The Hon. Steven Point, OBC

Unlike his distinguished predecessor, the present Lieutenant Governor of BC seems to have a variety of persistent issues when it comes to wearing orders, decorations and medals. 

The problem in this photo is minor, in that the senior Order (the Order of St. John) should be worn at the neck, not the Order of British Columbia, which ranks after the Order of St. John. He also needs to do up his collar. Despite this I do applaud His Honour for wearing the Lieutenant Governor's Uniform. 

As an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy, His Honour occasionally wears Mess Dress and CF Uniforms. A survey of his website shows him regularly wearing the Vice-Regal Badge (the little silver star) on his uniforms. This is in violation of CF dress regulations. Here we have His Honour in Mess Dress, wearing his Vice-Regal Badge, strangely he is not wearing his Order of British Columbia or the breast star of a Knight of Justice which he is entitled to. 

In case you are wondering what the Vice-Regal badge is here is what it looks. It is not approved for wear on any CF uniform. 

George R. Pearkes, VC, PC, CC, CB, DSO, MC, CD AN EXAMPLE TO EMULATE

There is nothing wrong in this photo, all is as it should be!
Here is a wonderful picture of Major General The Honourable George R. Pearkes, taken while he was still Lieutenant Governor of BC. Despite being a Companion of the Order of Canada, Companion of the Order of the Bath, Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John and Commander of the Legion of Merit (US) -- thats a total of four neck orders he held -- Pearkes always followed the rules and only wore what was appropriate. In this case it was one neck order and his medal bar. Here is an example that others could well emulate. Notice that Pearkes had just been awarded the CD in this photo.

Richard Rohmer, OC, CMM, DFC, OOnt, CD, QC

Our self professed "most decorated citizen" Major General (ret) Richard Rohmer still insists on wearing a CF uniform. I have always felt that once you retire from the CF that you should cease wearing the uniform. Unfortunately you just have to apply to DND and you can get permission to continue wearing it, no matter how much you start to look like the Michelin Man. 


I understand that Rohmer has been told repeatedly that he is only allowed to wear two neck orders at a time, yet he insists on wearing three, which just looks silly. Here we see him with his OC, CMM and OOnt. Thankfully he did not add his fourth neck order to the mix here (his KStJ). Even illustrious heroes of the Second World War have to follow the rules. When in CF uniform the rules are all the more important because you are setting an example for your subordinates and peers. 

The Clarkson Years and beyond

Five years have passed since Adrienne Clarkson and her self-professed co-GG husband departed Rideau Hall. As Governor General Clarkson did much to invent new and incorrect ways of wearing her various orders, decorations and medals. She invented what I like to call "the olympic medal" method of wearing the Order of Canada. Clarkson and her husband habitually wore their Order of Canada insignia on long investiture length ribbons. Ralston Saul's CC should be hanging just below the knot of his tie, not mid-chest.

Clarkson's offences went beyond just the wearing of investiture length ribbons, she found literally dozens of ways to wear her insignia incorrectly -- worst of all she continues to commit these intentional errors -- all on account of an acute case of Instant Dictator Syndrome. 

Here we have Clarkson wearing her CC around the neck and her CMM on a bow, along with her medal bar. She would have been fine to wear just her CC around the neck (for those ladies who insist on such things) and her medal bar, or her CMM on a bow above her medal bar, but not her CC and CMM at the same time. During the recent installation of the Governor General in Ottawa Clarkson could be seen on TV sporting both her CC and CMM on bows -- totally incorrect and against the rules for wearing Canadian orders, decorations and medals. Those in civilian attire can only wear a Companion or Commander level Order around the neck or on a bow -- not both! The Queen is allowed to wear both the Order of Canada and Order of Military Merit on bows because these are special Sovereign's badges.

Clarkson's offences have continued long after leaving office. As Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI you would think the RSM or maybe even a brass hat would tell her to stop wearing her medals wrong!  Here we have Clarkson doubling up on Orders again. Clarkson's behaviour is an embarrassment to the PPCLI and some brave member should correct the erstwhile former GG. Leaving this acute case of Instant Dictator Syndrome untreated could tragically lead to Clarkson wearing her Order of Canada, Order of Military Merit, Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Order of St. John insignia and medal bar simultaneously. This would undoubtedly result in a serious back injury for the 71 year old Clarkson.