By Jules Xavier, Shilo Stag
Shilo, Manitoba —It wasn’t Christmas, but Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) Museum director, Andrew Oakden, received a special gift: medals once worn by legendary artillery officer Major-General Tom Strange.
The medals, one awarded to MGen Strange for his role in the Northwest Rebellion and the other for service in India, cost more than $50,000. They were purchased from Spink Auction House in the UK with funds raised by the RCA Senate, which works to promote and preserve the RCA’s heritage.
The fundraising was led by Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Colonel Commandant Brigadier General (Retired) J.J. Selbie.
Mr. Oakden said staff at the auction house brought the medals to the museum’s attention.
“They likely saw him listed on our website as a great gunner and thought we would be interested,” he added. “That was true. A sizeable family collection of Strange medals were up for auction, including those of his son, Harry Strange. We were not successful with the bidding on those.”
“They had six hundred lots on the first day [of the auction],” recalled a beaming Mr. Oakden after unpacking the medals, both contained in plastic coverings similar to those used to protect prized hockey cards or comic books.
“They started at lot one and went to lot 600. The general’s medals were lot 501. They came up at 10:15 a.m., and bidding ended about a minute later. The auction started 3 a.m. our time, 9 a.m. in London.”