Winnipeg war hero's medals to be auctioned off next month

Part of Canada's military history could be sold to a foreign collector on May 25 when former Winnipeg resident Robert Shankland's First World War medals, including the Victoria Cross, are put up for auction in Toronto.

Part of Canada's military history could be sold to a foreign collector next month when the First World War medals of former Winnipeg resident Robert Shankland are put up for auction.

Shankland's medals, including the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Conduct Medal, will be auctioned off in Toronto on May 25.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross after leading his outnumbered troops in battle against the Germans near the Belgian town of Passchendaele. Bonhams Canada auction house estimates Shankland's nine medals will fetch between $220,000 and $330,000.

However, a year ago in Australia, a Victoria Cross and several other medals sold for the equivalent of $573,000.

The thought of the medals falling into the hands of a foreign bidder has war historian Murray Burt concerned. Burt, the secretary of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, said the medals are worth too much to Canadian history to have them leave the country.

"I think if [they] go offshore, we're throwing an artifact of our history away. It would be a shame, if not a disgrace," he said.

Shankland was a member of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.

The Camerons might start a nationwide fundraiser to try to get enough money to bid on the medals themselves, Burt said.