The heyday of the medal, from about 1850 to the coming of the First World War in 1914, coincided with the heyday of the agricultural fair in Canada. The National Medal Collection at the National Archives of Canada contains a wide range of agricultural medals, especially from this period.
The earliest Canadian agricultural medal was also the first medal struck on purely Canadian initiative, for a purely Canadian purpose. It was half a century ahead of the more general trend in the country. The National Medal Collection boasts the unique known surviving specimen of this silver medal, an award of the Society for Promoting Agriculture in Nova Scotia. This society was founded in 1789, and the medal was apparently struck in 1791 for award in 1792. It was ordered from England, but the maker's name is not recorded.
Two aspects of the early Nova Scotian medal were to be typical for Canada's agricultural medals generally. These were the aspiration to dignify farming through medals, to put it on a par with the glamorous profession of arms, and the preference for the pictorial symbolization of agriculture through the portrayal of farm tools, farm animals or general farm scenes, rather than through the traditional medallic convention of allegorical figures derived from ancient mythology.