A trio of medals from a soldier who served during the First World War have hit the auction block at a thrift store in Brandon, but one Legion head is unhappy, believing the store should have done more to try and track down people that may be interested in the medals.
The Brandon MCC Thrift Shop (Mennonite Central Committee) has listed the medals as part of a silent auction at the store, with bids being made either in the store or by phoning in. The medals are a 1914-15 Star, a British War Medal, and a Victory Medal, along with a cap badge bearing the signature of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). The medals would be awarded to a soldier who served during the First World War.
Stephane Guindon came across the notice of the auction online in a private Facebook group related to military collecting, and said he is upset the items are being auctioned off.
“It bothered me that it has been posted in a couple of areas, rather than reaching out to museums, local museums, to at last make some attempt to keep them in Manitoba,” said Guindon, who is president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 30 in West Kildonan.
On Tuesday, Guindon said the current bid for the medals was $500 to a buyer in the United States. He has bid $650 of his personal money to try and obtain the medals.
Guindon said other thrift stores in Winnipeg, if they come across items such as medals, would tell him they were there, so he could obtain them and display them in the legion.
“The items are incredibly important,” he said, “It’s (about) remembering our service members. It’s remembering the veterans from the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, peacekeeping missions. What happens to these items if we just continue to let them go out of the country.”
Guindon said previously, legions have placed bids on items if they’ve shown up at auction. He said with the COVID-19 pandemic, legions have been closed for fundraisers, meaning money is now tight.
“To try to come up with money to pay for items like this all the time and try to save them, we can’t,” he said, adding he is hoping he either is the highest bidder, or the items will be donated to a legion or a museum.
CTV News reached out to Manitoba MCC, which said its thrift stores often hold silent auctions with unique items donated to help support relief, development and peace projects organized by MCC. It said the items were donated over a year ago, and were only recently displayed due to building renovations and public health orders.
“Sometimes special items are donated by accident. Typically, people will call and let volunteers know, or volunteers will notice when a special item was donated accidentally,” a spokesperson for Manitoba MCC said in an emailed statement.
The spokesperson said at this time, the store hasn’t heard from the original owner or family members to claim the medals, which is why they were added to the silent auction display.
MCC said the auction runs until the bidding action has stopped for 14 consecutive days.