Vintage Canadiana

In the “Vintage Memories” post I talked a bit about the Royal Canadian Artillery cap badge that I ‘inherited’, but I thought that I’d share some photographs of some of the other military paraphernalia that I have in my box of goodies.  Perhaps by working with photos of them, I’ll be inspired to think of what I want to create for the military-inspired steampunk costume I have floating around in the corner of my mind.

The majority of the items I have are RCMP, inherited from my father.  When I was a kid he had a fairly significant RCMP collection, but as his interests changed,  he started buying and selling less Vintage RCMP and more Antique Canadiana items, and his RCMP collection shrank considerably.  Since I have very little interest directly in military or RCMP, but very much interest in costuming and altered attire projects, I thought that the best way to use some of the items from his collection would be to move them out of a display case, and into my sewing room.

Embroidered crests

Pistols and Crown

The crossed pistols are for sharpshooters.  This badge looks and feels REALLY new; unlike the other badges that have obvious signs of having been sewed onto a uniform, this one looks like it was never applied.

The crown is for Officers who are Inspectors. I remember reading somewhere that historically the shape of this crown would change to reflect the monarch in power at the time that the person served.  I haven’t dated the crown yet.


Three chevrons with the arrows pointing down signifies a Sergeant, while two chevrons (also pointing down) signifies a Corporal.
For the three-line chevron, this is just gold braid sewed down to a piece of felt, while the two-line chevron is actually embroidered.


Chevron & stars

The stars are service badges, with each star signifying 5 years of service.  I have three different designs, from three different eras I presume, though I haven’t been able to date them yet.


Although most of these wouldn’t be immediately recognizable as RCMP or military specifically, I think they would be a nice finishing touch on a military-inspired costume.

Buttons (one of each)

I took one photo with most of the individual buttons, but then thought it would be interesting to show some of the individual buttons. For some of these I only have one button, while for others I have as many as 8+2.

Bison head button

Bison head button – RCMP






Wolf (?) head button

Wolf (?) head button – Apparently this is a NWMP (North West Mounted Police) button. Circa 1873-1902




NHB button

HNB button – What does the NHB stand for?  National Honey Board? National Heritage Board? I have no idea what these buttons are from, and even just NHB doesn’t seem to be anything ‘right’.  (The only other NHB is a mixed martial arts thing, and that doesn’t sound right either.)  Does anyone know what these buttons are from?  Please comment below!


RCMP bison button

RCMP bison button






Police Force button

Police Force button – the best I could find was that this is a current era button made by William Scully out of Montreal.  William Scully is one of several manufactures who have been making buttons for the RCMP, Military, and other law-enforcement groups in Canada for a number of years apparently.

Cap badges, pins, etc.

Shoulder titles

The brass letters are shoulder titles.  These are worn at the edge of the eppulet where the strap meets the sleeve.  The GRC/RCMP one at the top is actually a pin though.  I presume it would be worn in the same place.  I have two of these, but only one each of the other two.

Unknown items

This vaguely star-shaped badge is eluding me so far – I can’t find out what it’s called or what it’s for.  From the Canadian Military Police virtual museum I’m led to think that perhaps it’s a service badge, worn on the shoulder (epaulets).  Another page has a picture which calls them metal pips, and says that they were modeled on the star of the Order of Bath.  I don’t know… again, if you know what this is, please let me know in the comments below!  Along with it I’ve shown a star, and two crown pins.  I don’t know yet what any of these items are actually for!


I also have a cool helmet spike.  I can’t really think of what to use this for, since I’m unlikely to wear a hard helmet that would support this.  Hmmm.  Additionally, my very brief search online suggests that it might be German-style versus Canadian.  Believe it or not, Google is really NOT being helpful in identifying all of these things.  I know that we used to have some of dad’s reference books, but I think they were all given away after his passing.

For reference, the RCMP website has a picture of the full RCMP uniform.  In my internet wandering I also found another steampunk who thought that RCMP would make interesting steampunk costume inspiration- though he’s gone decidedly more realistic than I think I would go.

So, how do you think it would be interesting to use these, or do you think it’s strange to use authentic vintage pieces in fantasy costuming?  While I know that there are lots of collectors out there who enjoy this sort of thing, I have to imagine if they were of any real value, Dad would have sold them already!

Another note – as I previously mentioned, I have no real interest in military or RCMP history, and thus my “research” as to what these things are is brief at best.  If you can correct me, or fill me in on some of the missing details, I’d appreciate any corrections out of curiosity more than anything else!  Perhaps as time goes by I can come back to this post and update it as I learn more.

11 comments on “Vintage Canadiana

  1. Brian Brennan says:


    I’m a current member of the RCMP and a collector of the history of the Force. I can assist you in identifying the different badges, insignia and buttons you possess if you are interested. What are the items you are interested in having more information on ? To answer your question about what to do with these items ….. some are are of interest to collectors for display purposes. I have seen some of these items used as part of costuming but mainly for re-enactment.

    Your NHB button is from Canada’s National Harbours Board police which was in service from 1936 to 1983.

    Regards ……. Brian

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you! That’s excellent information – I did some searching about the NHB, and couldn’t find anything – you’ve solved a puzzle for me! Now, just the curiosity how buttons from there found their way to Alberta!

      Do you happen to have any idea what the star-shaped things are in this photo:

      Thank you for your help, and for your service!

      • Brian Brenann says:

        Good Evening Dawn,

        In reply to you specific question regarding the “star-shaped things”. The metal stars is a RCMP service star that denotes 5 years of completed service and was worn on the leftt upper sleeve of the red serge. These were not used for very long as the often got bent or fell off. The other large “star-shape” is known as a pip. It is an insignia badge as part of different Commissioned Officer ranks both in the RCMP and military and are worn on the eppaulettes of an Offficer’s unform. For example, in the RCMP a Superintendent rank is crown above a pip, a Chief Surperintendent is a crown above to pips. The other smaller badges in the photo are both Canadian military badges worn on eppaulettes of different uniforms.

        In one of the other photos, you have an older looking cloth crown above a crossed-revolvers marksman badge. That crown actually goes above the Sgt. badge you have in another photo. The crown sits in the “V” of the stripes.

        From what I see in the photos, it appears your father was a collector of many different areas. I would guess that NHB button was aquired through trading and may have came in a button collection he acquired. Not an uncommon thing to have happen for collectors to obtain larger lots of items to get a few items they really want.

        If you would be interested in selling some of the items, I would be interested in the RCMP related items for my collection. If you have any other questions or mysteries on items you have please let me know and maybe I can be of assistance.

        Kindest regards ……. Brian

  2. Kate O'Brien says:

    As far as the spike goes, it might be worth searching google image search under the term Pickelhaube for more information.

    • Dawn says:

      Cool – thanks! I did an image search originally with “helmet spike” and got similar responses – but having another term could always help if I want to look into it more deeply. (Which right now, I just don’t have time for! 😦 – or at least don’t have time to make that a priority.)

  3. Dawn says:

    Hmmm there’s no more reply button for me to reply to your last post Brian!

    Thank you very much for the information about the service star. I imagine the fact that they weren’t used for long would contribute to my inability to find anything out about them in my very brief search.

    Indeed, my dad collected a variety of things, and often would trade/sell off things once the novelty of them had worn off (or, more often, when he found a buyer more interested in them than he was!) He also did a lot of metal detecting (he was the local chapter president for a number of years) and through that he also came across a whole host of strange and unusual things… His man-cave was always interesting!

  4. Brian Brennan says:

    Happy New Year Dawn,

    I came across your web-site again while I as doing more research on my collection and this is the first time I had seen your response of Dec. 8, 2011………. my apologies.

    The information that your Dad did metal detecting is interesting in terms of at least two items in the photos. These items are the RCMP and RNWMP which appear to have been found after being buried for some time as they have lost the original “lustre” and shine. The RCMP/GRC shoulder title is a newer issue (post mid-1070s) and number of our metal badges for the epaulettes have gone to pin backs as the lugs on older badges got bent or broke off.

    The “spike” item you have was an accessory worn on the top of the white pith helmet that was common among many British regiments, including the Officer’s dress uniforms of the NWMP and RNWMP. There is no way to distinguish this as being specifically from the Force.

    Your comment on the “wolf” buttons is not uncommon but in fact that is a buffalo head on the button. It is often referred to as the a “shaggy buffalo”. The design came from an artists rendition of what a buffalo would look like without actually having seen one …… or so the story goes.

    Kindest regards ……. Brian

  5. Rod says:

    Hey there , I’m a history teacher and Nwmp collector , I’ve found a lot of the spikes (usually not in as good as shape as yours) . These are the spikes from the pith helmets and the mounted plate also had a vent inside as the helmets were cork and would get pretty warm especially in the prairie sun. They are definitely Nwmp and Canadian . Would date to the 1880’s period !! Cheers

  6. David Chase says:

    I found this die among many I received in a lot from the UK in the 70’s.​

    You can see it on my webpage at:

    It was presumably used in the production of RCMP medals. The design seems to me, to be unusual in the double banners.

    If you have additional information about this die , or if you have an interest in owning it, please contact me at this email address.


    David Chase

    • Brian & Cariann Brennan says:

      Good Evening David,

      Your die is actually for RCMP badges and judging by the size of it I would say specifically for our collar badges for our Red Serge and not for the RCMP Long Service medal. I am currently a member of the RCMP and have been collecting its history for the past 30 years. I would be honoured to add this piece to my collection and to do further research on the die.

      You can contact me at I currently live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

      Kindest regards …..

      Brian Brennan

      Sent from my iPad


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