Colonel George Thew Burke's Medal of Recognition for service in the War of 1812's Battle of Chateauguay is a treasure in the Goulbourn Museum's collection.
Colonel Burke joined the 100th Prince Regent’s County of Dublin Regiment of Foot in Ireland as its recruiting officer in 1804. He served with Major General Isaac Brock in 1812 at the battle of Queenston Heights and in May of 1813 he led grenadiers on the Sackets Harbor raid. Burke was promoted and served as a major of brigade at the Battle of Chateauguay in October, 1813 as well as at the Battle of Plattsburg in 1814.
Burke is famously known for avoiding death when the snuff box he carried with him in the breast pocket of his jacket prevented a musket ball from damaging more than just his uniform.
At the end of the War of 1812, Burke was sent overseas to serve on the Duke of Wellington’s general staff when Napoleon met his Waterloo in June, 1815. Returning to the Canadas, he became the superintendent of the Richmond military settlement and a colonel in the First Carleton militia. He was also the first elected representative for Carleton in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and the first land registrar of Carleton County. He died in 1854 at the age of 78, in Bytown.
Descendants of Burke donated the medal to the Museum in 2013, along with a letter written by Colonel Burke's daughter Margaret Jane in 1889. The contents of that letter are as follows:
376 Maria St
My Dear Jack,
I give into your hands for safe keeping my dear father's medal. I know you are careful. I don't want it to go out of the family nor do I wish you to say anything about it.
Praying you a long life and good luck.
With much love and many happy returns of the seasons.
From your grand grandma
I hope you are able to read this.
The Goulbourn Museum is currently fundraising to conserve this letter. To contribute to the repairs, please follow this link: https://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?charityID=s102880
For more about Colonel Burke, please pick up your free copy of the Goulbourn Museum's 2013 publication Goulbourn's Top 12 of 1812, available in conjunction with the 100th Regiment of Foot exhibition on display at the Museum now. To plan your trip, please visit the Goulbourn Museum here: goulbournmuseum.ca.
Submitted by The Goulbourn Museum