OTD: State funeral for Roméo LeBlanc

On today’s date in 2009, a state funeral was held for Roméo LeBlanc, who served as Canada’s Governor General from Feb. 8, 1995-Oct. 7, 1999.

As noted by reader David Moore, of Toronto, an Academic Medal depicting LeBlanc and his wife Diana was issued during his tenure in the late 1990s. The medal’s reverse depicts LeBlanc’s personal coat of arms (we had originally erroneously shown a smaller-sized medallion struck for distribution on overseas tours and other less-formal occasions; thanks for the correction, David).

The Academic Medal’s obverse shows the couple’s right-facing conjoined busts. Inscribed around the rim are the words “GOUVERNEUR GÉNÉRAL – CANADA – GOVERNOR GENERAL” at the top and “ROMEO LeBLANC – DIANA FOWLER LeBLANC” at the bottom; each phrase is separated by an inward-facing maple leaf. The medal has reeded edges on both sides and a 53-mm thickness.

As an interesting aside, although Moore is not a recipient of a Governor General’s Academic Medal, he has a “small collection” of about 10 Academic Medals in bronze and silver.

This Academic Medal depicts LeBlanc alongside his wife Diana on the obverse.

GOVERNOR GENERAL’S ACADEMIC MEDALS

According to the Governor General’s website, in 1873, Lord Dufferin—Canada’s third Governor General since Confederation six years earlier—established the Academic Medal to “encourage academic excellence across the nation.” Since then, the medals have gained prominence as one of the most prestigious awards a Canadian student can receive.

“For more than 140 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada,” reads the website, which adds the award is given to the graduating student with the highest grade point average from a high school, college or university. More than 50,000 Canadians—including Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas, Kim Campbell, Robert Bourassa—have received the medal.

Today, the Governor General’s Academic Medals are awarded at four levels: bronze at the secondary school level; collegiate bronze at the post-secondary diploma level; silver at the undergraduate level; and gold at the graduate level. The medals are presented by participating schools on behalf of the Governor General and include personalized certificates signed by the current Governor General.

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