Montreal Natural History Society. Undated 46mm coper medal 45.6 grams, plain edge, unsigned (Leroux 651; McLachlan150; Breton110; Charlton 2280)
Please note that this is the original struck medal, and not one of the cast medals that was possibly produced during the late 19th century for collectors unable to obtain an example of this rare issue. Photo of museum does not come with the medal.
The Montreal Natural History Society was organized in 1828 and established this prize medal for best essay on any subject of its choosing. R.W. McLachlan noted that the practice of issuing these medals had ceased long before 1886. The fabric of production suggests mid-19th century, though it is possibly the medals were issued as early as 1834. The maker is unknown.
The first meeting of the Natural History Society of Montreal took place on May 12th, 1827, with Dr. A. F. Holmes serving as Chair. The group founded a natural history museum of local and foreign animal and plant species, fostering a general spirit of scientific and literary research. In the Society's cataloguing of Canadian natural history, they appointed an “Indian committee” to describe to fur traders what they should collect when traveling to or living in outlying regions. Society meetings were well attended for almost a century and the group published many papers in the volumes of the "Canadian Naturalist".
Andrew Fernando Holmes who was born in Cadiz, Spain, received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1819. He later taught both botany and chemistry at the Montreal Medical Institution, which in 1929 became the Medical Faculty of McGill. Holmes was the first professor of botany in 1829 and the first dean of the medical faculty in 1854.
Holmes collected extensively on Mount Royal and in the vicinity of Montreal in the 1820s, being an active member of the Montreal Natural History Society. His herbarium of 600 sheets was presented to McGill in 1856 and became the nucleus of the present herbarium.