• Home
  • /
  • m. Extra Innings
  • /
  • 3115 John Nanton [Tony] Clark & the Medals of 78 – Herbert Colborne Nanton

3115 John Nanton [Tony] Clark & the Medals of 78 – Herbert Colborne Nanton

Caption: (Left) 3115 John Nanton [Tony] Clark , 8057 Ross McKenzie, RMC Museum Curator and (Right)Mr. Bruce Nanton met up for Bruce to donate the medals of 78 Herbert Colborne Nanton, (entered RMC in 1879) to the College Museum.

Classy Move by Nanton & Clark Families


This past Sunday, while most of us were enjoying the half-way point of a gorgeous Labour Day Weekend a small but very significant (emotional)  event took place at the front steps of Mackenzie Building.

3115 John Nanton [Tony] Clark , 8057 Ross McKenzie, RMC Museum Curator and Mr. Bruce Nanton met up for Bruce to donate the medals of 78 Herbert Colborne Nanton, (entered RMC in 1879) to the College Museum.

Tony is the grandson of Lillian C. Nanton who married J. D. Clark. Lillian was the sister of Herbert C. Nanton. “I sat on his knee til I was four. My Grandmother talked a lot about him after his death”, stated a teary eyed Tony.

When Herbert died in Victoria, BC in 1935 his belongings went to his sister Lillian, later to her son who was the father of Tony. From the beginning when she took possession, Lillian felt that the Medals should stay in the Nanton family so they went to the son of another brother; then down the tree to Bruce Nanton. Bruce is the great, great Nephew.

About seven years ago, Tony gave the first piece of these belongings to the RMC Museum. It was an 1884 Spandeau rifle. Much later in 2012, Ross McKenzie saw the remainder of the collection at the home of Tony and his wife Margaret. It was after this visit that Tony made the decision to give all of it to RMC. He had a picture of the Medals but no medals.

Tony adds, “I knew that they had to be in the greater Nanton family. After some research I contacted a distant Nanton relative in Vancouver. He knew the family much better than I; with the help of some cousins he found out that Bruce was the present recipient. As it was very important to me that all H.C.N.s belongings should come together I wrote to Bruce and after several emails he agreed. He offered to deliver them to the College on the day he brought his son to enter Queen’s University on Sunday.”

Following the formalities – Ross took both Tony and Bruce on a short tour of the college museum which they had a chance to see the rest of the collection of 78 Herbert Colborne Nanton.


Both photos by: 26659 OCdt (II) Danielle Andela

Cadet # 78 – Nanton, Herbert Colborne – Attended RMC 1879-83

Courtesy – 8057 Ross McKenzie, RMC Museum Curator

After graduation worked as a civil engineer with the CPR in the building of the railway in the Rocky Mountain section.

On the outbreak of the North-West Rebellion in 1885 he joined the militia and served as a Lieutenant in the Midland Battalion. He was awarded the medal and clasp for the campaign.

In 1885 the Royal Engineers, in need of more officers, offered additional commissions to RMC graduates. Nanton applied and was accepted.

Much of his military career was in India although he served during the South African War as Director of Railways. While in South Africa he was promoted to Brevet-Major in 1900 and then to Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel in 1902.

In India he held various senior engineering appointments and was serving as Director-General Military Works when the First World War broke out. An Indian Army Corps was formed for service in France and Nanton was appointed as Chief Engineer. He served with the Indian Corps to the end of 1915, when it was transferred from France to Mesopotamia. Nanton remained on the Western Front serving as Chief Engineer of XV Corps until 1917 and then with XVII Corps for the remainder of the War.

In 1915 Nanton was awarded a C. B. (Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath) and in 1919 a C.I.E. (Companion of the Order of India).

After the First World War he returned to India and held the appointment of Chief Engineer, Southern Army until he retired from the army in 1921. Nanton died in Victoria, BC, in 1935.


Nanton was the brother-in-law of #69 Maj-Gen. A.C. Joly de Lotbiniere.

The Douglas Chair of Canadian History –a position -with an actual armchair- that was endowed in 1910 by James Douglas, then Chancellor of Queen’s University (He was also the father of #249 Walter Douglas- the donor of the large arms collection to RMC.)

The wooden armchair commissioned by Douglas for use by the incumbent was carved in India by Margarette Nanton- wife of Brig. Nanton.


  • Victoria Edwards

    September 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Wonderful news! I hope this story inspires other donations. I like the idea that the donor dropped off the donation at one Kingston university, while dropping off a child at another university.

  • Marielle Sylvain

    November 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Est-ce que vous avec des photo du Brigadier-General Herbert Colborne Nanton et sa femme Margaretta-Anna Joly de Lotbiniere, des informations sur ses personnes

  • Captain R. Bruce Campbell, US N (ret)

    January 13, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I am a cousin of John Nanton Clark living on Whidbey Island, Washington, USA. We were sometimes playmates as children.