Order of Merit (OM)

The official description, eligibility, criteria, and history of the Order of Merit (OM).

Order of Merit (OM)


Created in 1902 by King Edward VII, the Order of Merit is a single-level order bestowed as a personal gift of the Sovereign. The Order has a military and a civil division and is limited to 24 members at any given time.

This honour is administered by the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood at St. James’s Palace in London in the United Kingdom.


An eight-pointed cross of red and blue enamel surmounted by the imperial crown. In the centre, upon blue enamel and surrounded by a laurel wreath, are the words 'For Merit', in gold lettering.

The insignia for the military division (when used) is differentiated by crossed swords placed between the angles of the cross of the badge.

The ribbon of the Order of Merit measures 40 mm and is divided into two stripes of red for the Order of the Bath and blue for the Order of the Garter.


There is no bar to this order.


The Order of Merit shall be worn following the Cross of Valour (C.V.), in the sequence prescribed in the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive.


Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “OM”.

Historical notes

The Order of Merit has been awarded to only five Canadians: The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG (1947); Colonel Dr. Wilder Penfield, OM, CC, CMG, CD (1953); the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE (1971); the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, PC, OM, CC (2009); and Margaret Olwen MacMillan, OM, CC, CH (2022).

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