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Two brave Canadian children received the Albert Medal

Posted in Bravery, Historical articles on Saturday, 30 March 2013

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This edited article about the Albert Medal originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 216 published on 5 March 1966.

Government House Ottawa, picture, image, illustration

Government House, Ottawa

One morning in the summer of 1916, Doreen Ashburnham, aged eleven, and Anthony Farrer, aged eight, left their homes on the banks of Cowichan Lake, Vancouver Island, to collect their ponies. When they got to the paddock their terrified ponies were being chased by a large puma.

As soon as the puma saw Doreen and Anthony, it left the ponies and sprang towards the children. It leapt on the girl first, knocked her down and crouched on her back.

Anthony at once came to his friend’s help by attacking the puma with his fists and lashing out at it with his riding whip. This infuriated the puma and it left Doreen to attack the boy.

Doreen then struggled to her feet and went to Anthony’s rescue. She fought the savage beast with her bare hands, even putting her arm into the animal’s mouth to prevent it from biting her friend. Although she managed to get the puma off the boy, it stood on its hind legs snapping and clawing at her.

By that time Anthony was on his feet and the two children fought back with such good effect that the puma slunk away into the woods. Exhausted and bleeding from dozens of bites and scratches, the children caught their ponies and rode home.

Some months later Doreen and Anthony were invited to Government House in Ottawa. There, in the name of King George V, the Governor-General pinned on their coats the Albert Medal.

It was for acts of bravery such as Doreen and Anthony had shown that Queen Victoria instituted the Albert Medal in March 1866.

Until then there had been no decoration to recognize gallantry by civilians in peace-time. Doreen and Anthony were the only children ever to receive the medal.

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