Star of Courage: Recognizing Canada's Heroes


183 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55002-365-9
DDC 920.071






Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


The author of Acts of Courage: 17 Heroes Who Won the Cross of Valour
(1998), which dealt with the recipients of Canada’s highest award for
bravery, now turns to those who have been awarded the nation’s next
most significant medal for heroism—namely, the Star of Courage, which
“is awarded for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great
peril.” When the book was written, the Star of Courage had been
awarded 387 times since its inception in 1972. Melady focuses on 17 of
those recipients, three of whom died during their acts of courage. The
12 incidents that are detailed occurred between 1974 and 1995, with the
majority of them happening in the 1980s.

Melady has selected his examples well, and his heroes and heroines,
including a seven-year-old girl who saved a companion from a child
molester, stretch from coast to coast and overseas, where two members of
the military won their decorations while serving on a Cyprus
peacekeeping mission. Although some of the recipients are in such
occupations as search and rescue, which often put them “in
circumstances of great peril,” most of those featured in the book are
just ordinary Canadians who found themselves having to perform in
extraordinary ways (e.g., rescuing people from drowning, fires,
explosions, carbon monoxide poisoning, or menacing criminals).

Because Melady interviewed the recipients and visited the sites
connected to the events, his writing has a liveliness that might not be
present had he just depended on secondary sources. The book’s only
shortfall is the poor definitional quality of many of the
black-and-white photos.


Melady, John., “Star of Courage: Recognizing Canada's Heroes,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2023,