In 1986, a small ‘medallion’ was found here at Panama Rocks. It measures approximately 1.5 cm [width] x 1.0 cm [height] – that’s about half the size of the average postage stamp! We’ve been told that it has a gold ‘wash’ over a body of brass. It appears to be stamped, as there is an imprint on the back.
On the left side, there is an image of a ‘Beaver’, on the right, a ‘Griffin’. These images are referred to as ‘supporters’, which we understand means that the heraldry was associated with a particular monarch, e.g., the expedition was financed and sanctioned by a monarch.
In the central part of the medallion is a shield with various images. In the upper left portion of this shield there is a ‘Maple Leaf’, and in the upper right portion is an ‘Eagle’ with its wings spread wide[This eagle is similar to the one on the back of a U.S. one dollar bill.] In the bottom section there is a small ‘shield’ with two ‘horses’ or ‘unicorns’ reared-up on either side. Above this shield is a ‘hawk’, with its wings spread wide. Beneath the large shield there are two ‘Ostrich Plumes’, and above that shield there is a ‘Crown’.
We believe the ‘medallion’ to be of French origin, dating back to the 1600’s, when French explorers were in the Great Lakes region. The French attached small ‘medallions’ to such things as rifles, etc. The heraldry in these medallions pertained to specific expeditions.
The very lucrative trade in beaver pelts was big business, and directly contributed to the half century of Iroquois Wars [AKA the Beaver Wars]. This may be why the ‘supporter’ on the right of the medallion is a beaver.The first ship built upstream of Niagara Falls was called the Griffin. It was constructed on the Lake Erie shore, about 50 miles from here. The medallion’s ‘Griffin’ image may be associated with this ship.
La Salle was in charge of this particular French expedition. One purpose of the expedition was to find routes to the West. A military contingent was assigned to this specific expedition, and, there is imagery of military significance on the medallion, viz., the vertical bars across the mid section of the large shield.
At one point in this expedition, La Salle and a few others returned overland from what is now Illinois, to Quebec for more supplies, etc. Later, a group of soldiers from this expedition also returned to Quebec. Therefore, it is possible that rifles from this particular expedition, with these medallions attached, were brought into this region on more than one occasion by members of the expedition.
There is a reward of $500 to the first person who provides positive identification of the heraldry in this medallion. [That is, evidence identifying the specific source of this medallion.] This information must be able to be verified by the park management.