There would be several attacks against the British in Canada between 1866 and 1871. The US would try to stop these actions but some felt the north actually wished Fenian success as a payback for the British support in their own war in the US.
Drop into this climate several British Regiments sent to Canada previous to, and during this era. One of these was a regiment called the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade. This unit was doing its duty in Quebec at the time of the Fenian's earliest attacks. Some may have been on duty at a railway station in the eastern Townships at a place called Danville. The Grand Trunk Railway ran a line through the south end of town, had a station and a few railsidings to do its work. On the day in question a train was heading through town from Montreal, enroute to Quebec and West to the Great Lakes. It was a passenger train and a few of the cars actually held about 800 German Immigrants who had just arrived in Canada. To ensure they got to their final destination and not drifted off elswehere, the authorities LOCKED THEM in their railcars. And next to these, the authorities camouflaged another boxcar and actually used it to carry about 100 barrels of gun powder and 2000 rounds of ammunition needed by the troops near Fort Erie.
As the train pulled into the railway station a Irishman... Pte Timothy O'Hea saw some smoke coming from the car next to the immigrants. Then the one carrying all the gunpowder. He screamed warnings and the three Privates with him on the train to guard the gunpowder all took off a safe distance. A sergeant was on site pondering what to do when O'Hea grabbed his keys. The Sergeant also fled... as did all the train authorities and a handful of other troops at the station.
O'Hea found a bucket and a small ladder. Putting it up against the car, he unlocked it, then ran for water from the creek. As he did this he removed some of the barrels to a safe location outside the car. He made no less than 19 trips to fetch water, pour it on the tops of the gunpowder barrels that he had wripped off. And off for another treck to the creek for more water... over and over and over again. Those immigrants who could see outside cheered him on... not knowing that they were themselves about to be blown up.
O'Hea managed to get the smoke cleared up, and all of the gunpowder was then loaded onto another boxcar and the train sent of its way.
The medal was awaded on January 1, 1867 for the actions that took place at Danville on 9 July 1866.
It would be the only time in the history of the Victoria Cross that an award would be made for actions on Canadian soil. And one of a very few that did not involve action in the face of the enemy.
The front and back imaged VC on the left is said to have been his VC. It has since been declared to be a fake medal by Hancocks, the manufacturer, the one and only, who has ever made these Victoria Crosses. Note that while VC's have the date inscribed in the centre this one does not.
The real medal shown at the far right is now on display at O'Hea's regimental museum at Winchester England, and now known as the Royal Green Jackets.
The Grand Trunk Railway line and station were pulled down many years ago. Today the rail line has been made into a bicycle path, as you can see to the left, and the old railway car pictured here is at the approximate location of the old railway station near where O'Hea earned his Victoria Cross.
Timothy O'Hea's body was apparently never found.