The Order of Canada awards explained
The honours were established in the year of Canada’s Centennial
By Byron Toben
January 18, 2024
On December 14, 2023, 78 new inductees were granted the Order of Canada. Here is a summary of its history and qualifications.
Before July 1, 1967, the 100th anniversary of Confederation, similar honours were bestowed on worthy individuals under the British Order Of Merit instituted by King Edward VII. Since 1902, only five Canadians were ever granted that honour: William Lyon McKenzie King, Wilder Penfield, Lester B. Pearson, Jean Chretien and Margaret MacMillan.
In 1967, the Canadian Order of Canada was established in three gradations: Member (CM), Officer (OC) or Companion (CC). The appointments are made by the Governor General of Canada upon the advice of an Advisory Council chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, which meets twice a year to consider nominations made by members of the public.
In 1967, the Canadian Order of Canada was established in three gradations: Member (CM), Officer (OC) or Companion (CC).
No more than 15 in one year, subject to a maximum at any time of 165.
No more than 64 were appointed in any one year.
No more than 136 per year.
Overall, over 7,600 persons have received an Order of Canada.
“Outstanding achievement and merit of the highest degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.”
“Achievement and merit of a high degree, especially service to Canada or to humanity at large.”
“Distinguished service in or to a particular group or field of activity.”
Officers and Members may be promoted in rank, subject to above numerical limits. Non-Canadian citizens may be appointed Honorary Companions, Officers or Members by the Governor General, limited to five per year.
‘Eight persons have been removed, most famously hockey agent Alan Eagleson in 1998 and newspaper publisher Conrad Black in 2014.’
Removal from Order of Canada
Recipients can be removed by the Advisory Council for various convictions or professional order disallowances of licenses. Eight persons have been removed, most famously hockey agent Alan Eagleson in 1998 and newspaper publisher Conrad Black in 2014.
Extraordinary Companions and Royal Family
The Governor General is both the principal Companion of the Order and, with his/her spouse, an Extraordinary Companion. A member of the Royal Family may be made a Companion, Officer or Extraordinary Member.
Order of Canada Pins
Recipients can wear an enamel pin with a snowflake image in the centre.
In instituting France’s Legion of Honour medal in 1802, Napoleon commented “It is by such baubles that men are led.” That medal has five gradations.
Feature image: Duke of Edinburgh wearing Order of Canada medal, by Jamie McCaffrey, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated websites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner, and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.