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To dignify farming through medals

The idea of elevating farming to the dignity of knightly service to the sovereign, or to the community, is implicit in the very use of the medal as a reward. The principle was explicitly stated in the stoutly Loyalist slogan on the reverse of the Nova Scotian medal, "The King himself is served by the field." The notion was spelled out a century later by the Premier of Quebec, Honore Mercier, when he declared, in his 1890 speech inaugurating the provincial Ordre du merite agricole:

Silver medal awarded at the Dominion Fair, Brandon, Manitoba, 1913 (MFN-008636) Silver medal awarded at the Dominion Fair, Brandon, Manitoba, 1913 (MFN-008636)

Silver medal awarded at the Dominion Fair, Brandon, Manitoba, 1913 (MFN-008636)

Undated silver medal donated by The Nor'-West Farmer and used throughout Manitoba (MFN-001361) Undated silver medal donated by The Nor'-West Farmer and used throughout Manitoba (MFN-001361)

Undated silver medal donated by The Nor'-West Farmer and used throughout Manitoba (MFN-001361)

In certain countries they decorate generals who have won great battles and served their sovereign well; to win these laurels they have had to walk through the blood of their fellow human beings, devastate the countryside, burn cities and bring grief to thousands of families. . . Instead of killing to make yourselves illustrious, you give life. . .; instead of devastating the fields you beautify them, and instead of burning cities you help to build them; instead of driving people out you nourish them; instead of bringing grief to families you give them honest ease.

Whoever wishes to characterize Canada as a country devoted to the arts of peace might even point to this tradition of the agricultural medal as a precursor of the ideal!

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