Hands-On Canadian History: The Boer War – Victoria Cross

In 1899, Britain goes to war with the Boers, a group of Dutch Colonialists who were living in South Africa. Canada joins in, sending troops to support the British. As our first opportunity to prove ourselves in war, Canada’s success through several intense battles gives us a very good reputation. After the war, four Canadian soldiers receive the Victoria Cross – a special award for valour in battle. Read about what feats of bravery they did to earn these medals.
Hands-On Canadian History: The Boer War - A Victorian Cross

Make a Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is a cross-shaped medal featuring a banner with the words “For Valour” draped over the cross beams, a crown in the centre, and a regal lion standing on the top (itself wearing a crown). I thought that this could be a great craft to make out of clay.

First, make the cross shape. I advise making sure this portion is quite thick. I made mine too thin and it ended up breaking, cracking near the centre and one cross beam fell off.  Don’t stress about making a perfect replica – the details of the original are insanely detailed. Just going for similar is good enough. Try to put in the key features:

  • a banner (roll a worm shape and flatten it before draping it on).
  • “words” (just use the edge of a small playdough or real knife or even drag a toothpick and press some shapes that resemble letters in the banner – it is very hard to make accurate lettering on something so small)
  • a crown shape (again just put something there to create the idea of a crown)
  • a lion

Once you are happy with your medal, leave it overnight to dry. When it is dry, you can paint it. Just be very careful with your clay as it can be very brittle and can break easily.

When the paint is dry, to finish it off, glue on a short piece of red ribbon to the leaf bar (if you made one!)

If making a replica of the Victoria Cross is too complex, design your own medal. What would your medal for valour look like?

See all 31 Days of  Hands-on Canadian History.

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