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Private Thompson Biggar’s Fenian Raid Medal

The museum has just acquired the Fenian Raid medal that was awarded to Private A.T. Bigger, of the Oakville Infantry Company.

Inscription to Pte A.T. Bigger, 20th

Andrew Thompson Bigger (1841-1924) was named after his father, Andrew Pettit Bigger, and his mother, Jessie Thompson. He was probably born near Omagh in Trafalgar township, where the family had a farm. In the 1860s, the local newspapers kept reporting on rumours of the threat that the Fenians might invade Canada, and Thompson, as he was known, joined the militia company in Oakville. He went to the front with them, first to Fort Erie, then spent most of June 1866 at Dunnville, guarding the Welland canal. After that, he continued to train with the company, now part of the 20th Battalion, and by 1868 he was a sergeant.

Thompson Biggar, from Ancestry

In 1870 he married young Elizabeth Maine in Georgetown, and one family tree on Ancestry suggests that they had thirteen children. He farmed for over a decade in Glenelg township in Grey county, then retired to the village of Hespeler.

The veterans of the Fenian Raids felt neglected by the government, and finally, in 1899, Canada authorized the striking of a General Service Medal, with a bar to indicate where the service took place. The former soldiers had to apply for the medal, say what unit they served with, and when they served (some weren’t too sure of the dates, thirty-three years after the fact), and who their commanding officer was.

Bigger’s name in the medals book. Library and Archives Canada.

Now, 150 years after he went to the front with the Oakville Rifle Company, his medal has come home to the regimental museum.

A.T. Bigger’s Fenian Raid medal

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