The Lifesaving Society's Bronze Medallion was introduced to
Canada in 1896 as the first ever lifesaving certification. Canada's
first Bronze Medallion course (1896) certified 18 students at the
Upper Canada College in Toronto. Today over 30,000 Canadian's earn
the Bronze Medallion annually.
The Bronze Medallion - an overview
- In 1909, 65 people earned the Bronze Medallion in Ontario
- The initial exam fee was 75 cents
- The Schafer Method of resuscitation was used (1910-1950's)
- In the late 1950's "mouth-to-mouth" was adopted by the
While Bronze Medallion instruction and exam items have changed
dramatically throughout the last century the main principles of
lifesaving remain the same. Since the beginning a primary focus was
placed on approaches, tows and carries, and resuscitation. Though
methods and terminologies have been adapted through the years the
Bronze Medallion is still based on physical ability and endurance,
theoretical knowledge of first aid and specialized rescue skills.
See sample rescue drills from 1983 National
"Four methods of rescue and three of release (combined) must be
shown in the water. A Candidate may take either the third or fifth
method of rescue. The drowning subject in the rescue methods must
be carried at least 20 yards, and the Candidate must show expert
ability in diving from the surface for an object." The Royal Life
Saving Society, Handbook of Instruction, 1910.
Defenses & Releases: Demonstrate three
defences from the front, side, and rear and three releases from the
front, side, and rear. Assume a ready position and communicate
verbally after each defence or release.
Rescue 3: Perform a rescue of a distressed
victim in open water, requiring a 20 m or yd. approach and a 20 m
or yd. return. The situation is designed to require either a
contact or non-contact rescue with emphasis on victim recognition
and appropriate care.
Canada assumed full responsibility for the training programs
(Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, etc.) following the 1960
reorganization of the Society. This led to significant changes to
the evaluation and expectations of Bronze Medallion candidates.
Victim recognition and rescuer judgment became crucial aspects of a
candidate's success. In the past there had been strict, drill-based
exams. Following the revisions the emphasis was placed on adapting
to situations and applying knowledge and skill to changing rescue
Upon successful exam completion candidates have always been
awarded a Bronze Medallion. The medals have undergone a variety of
changes since the award's inception, but have always represented
the holder's humanitarian desire to preserve life.
The initial design had a pictogram showing a victim being
carried by a rescuer in an outdoor setting. The medal was encircled
by the words "The Life Saving Society - Established 1891." On the
back of the medallion the Society's motto, "Quemcunque miserum
videris hominemscias" (Whomsoever you see in distress, recognize in
him a fellow man) was inscribed around the outside. Learn more about the motto here.
In the centre the candidates name and exam date appeared. All
medals were engraved and shipped from England - medals took months
Throughout the years, the medallion underwent several minor
changes. In the late 1930s the medallion was completely redesigned
to feature the Society's Official Crest.The front of the medal
featured the motto encircling the outside. A crossed boat hook and
oar tied with a knot of rope sat in the centre surrounded by the
words, "The Royal Life Saving Society."
Click here to read more on the change of design to the Bronze
During the Second World War, recipients were presented with
"token certificates" because of the metal shortage. These were
redeemable for real medallions later. Click here to see a token certificate.
In 2008 the Society celebrated its 100th anniversary and
launched a commemorative medallion. This featured the Society's new
logo with a 100th symbol alongside