Bronze Medallion

Bronze Medallion

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.

First class

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 Society

Test Items

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 Lifeliner.

Then (1910)

"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.

Now (2014)

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.

Program Revisions

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 circumstances.


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 beginning

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 to arrive.


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 Medallion.

Bronze Medallions

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