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Broderick's medal.

A follow-up to last week's column.

After learning that Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame member John C. Broderick was part of Team Canada that won Olympic Lacrosse gold medal of 1908, I posed the question, does the medal still exist and if so where. Before I spill the beans, I want to share some interesting history about the games and the medal.

Originally, the 1908 games were awarded to Rome. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in April of 1906, the Olympic resources were needed for the clean-up and rebuilding of the city of Naples. Thus, in early 1907, the games were switched to Great Britain and the city of London. The short notice put a lot of pressure on Great Britain and so, the games were spread out between April and the end of October 1908.

The medal design was awarded to Australian-born sculptor Bertram Mackennal who, borrowing from Greek mythology and the origin of the Olympic games, depicted two female figures crowning the champion athlete with a Laurel wreath.

For the obverse of the medal, Mackennal chose St. George, the patron Saint of England and his legendary slaying of the dragon approximately 250 A.D. The edge of the medal is inscribed "Winner" followed by the sport, in this case, "La Crosse."  Weighing 25 grams, 250 Gold Medals would be produced and placed in protective red boxes.

After the story last week, I received a call from Joan Terrance. Joan grew up in the area of Eighth and Augustus Streets, here in Cornwall. After a brief chat, Joan teased me by saying, "As a little girl, I called John C. Broderick, uncle Jack."

At this point, I was pretty excited and holding my breath, waited for the right moment to ask the question, "Joan do you know where uncle Jack's gold medal is?"

Joan excitedly replied that she did! Her brother Brian is in possession of it. There is a long family story about how the medal made the rounds after uncle Jack died in 1957, how it's importance was never lost and how it is still cherished today.

Joan and Brian agreed to send me some pictures of the medal. Its simplicity of design, compared to modern-day medals, speaks volumes of the times when it was issued. With a little research and the magic of photoshop, I put together a collage: the medal front and back with a military picture of Sgt. John C Broderick from WWI, and by copying his signature from his WWI attestation papers, we now have a new "autographed" display for the CSHOF.  

Researching the story of John Broderick and his medal was fun. It uncovered another Olympic Champion from our city, and a rare 104 year old piece of Olympic memorabilia. For those of you interested, condition sensitive, at a recent auction in Great Britain, one of these solid gold 1908 Olympic medals sold for £7,000, or close to $12,000 Canadian. The fact that only 250 were made and likely fewer survive all these years later, that just might be a fair value for uncle Jack's medal. Thanks to Joan and Brian Terrance, we now know the medal has sentimental value and no doubt makes it "priceless."

Organizations: Team Canada

Geographic location: Great Britain, Rome, Naples London England La Crosse Cornwall

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