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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 40

(x) A remarkable North West Canada Medal awarded to Lieutenant G. W. Stewart, 90th (Winnipeg) Rifles, who was wounded in action but went on to become a famous architect

North West Canada 1885, 1 clasp, Saskatchewan (Lieut. G. We. Stewart 90th Battn.), slight contact wear overall, very fine

George Wilson Stewart was born at Lanark, Scotland on 26 November 1855, the son of George and Jane Stewart - though it should be noted that his father had been born 'Stuart'. His parents emigrated to Canada when Stewart was a child and two of his siblings were born there, at Wellington, Ontario. The young Stewart was educated at Hellmuth College, London, Ontario before graduating onto an apprenticeship at an architecture firm in Toronto.

A building boom in Manitoba in 1880 provided opportunity for Stewart, who moved to Winnipeg to work as a draftsman for Balston C. Kenway. He later formed a partnership with Mancel Willmot in October 1880 and opened his own firm. The partnership proved successful and over the next three years the firm thrived, as did Stewart's reputation.

It was during this period that he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Company, 90th (Winnipeg) Battalion of the Militia on 26 March 1884. Promoted Lieutenant prior to the outbreak of the 1885 Reil Rebellion he was mobilised with the rest of the 90th Battalion. They were to see fighting at two of the major actions of the war, the first being the ambush of Middleton's column at Fish Creek: during this action the Battalion distinguished themselves in launching an attack against the Metis rifle pits but were unable to get past the barricades and were forced to pull back.

Returning to action at the Battle of Batoche in May, the Battalion formed part of the centre and took part in the final assault on the town. As the Grenadiers and Midland Battalion stormed the Metis rifle pits, the 90th supported their advance. They were further involved in the pursuit of the Cree after the battle, with a detachment being present at Frenchman's Butte. Stewart's obituary, noted in the Florida newspaper The Independent states:

'An Indian Fighter:
Mr. Stewart had many exciting experiences during his earlier days in Canada, fighting Indian Wars in the Canadian northwest. He was shot in the neck and many of his comrades were killed and wounded in the last Indian war that Canada experienced. The Sioux and Blackfeet were on the warpath and the Canadian militia was sent out from Winnipeg to round up the renegades.'

It should be noted that whilst Stewart's Company of the 90th certainly did engage, he does not appear on any casualty roll. Given the serious nature of a wound to the neck it seems an unlikely oversight - further neither the Sioux or Blackfeet were particularly active during the time he was with the Militia. Nevertheless, he was certainly active as an architect with several projects completed after 1885 - most notably the Riding School & Drill Hall at Regina, Sask, for the North-West Mounted Police. This was, at the time, the largest indoor arena in Western Canada but unfortunately it burned to the ground in 1887. That same year Stewart moved to Dallas, Texas to pursue a partnership with B. C. Fuller. This proved successful until the death of Fuller, after which Stewart continued the firm on his own account.

He served a term as President of the Texas State Association of Architects in 1890 but soon moved, this time to Georgia, in 1892. Having spent a profitable fifteen years in Atlanta, Stewart moved one final time to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1911. There he designed several significant buildings including the Yacht Club and the Post Office. He retired in 1920 and died on 12 March 1937; sold together with copied research comprising census data, medal rolls and a newspaper obituary as well as extracts from the Canada Gazette, Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas Country and Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950.

Subject to 5% tax on Hammer Price in addition to 20% VAT on Buyer’s Premium.

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