A few observations after following this thread. First, to be awarded a decoration, one has to be recommended. Trite, but true. In my young officer days a long time ago, a common belief was that Canadian senior officers tended to not submit many recommendations for awards, citing as their reason that the soldier was just doing his job. That did not mean that, at the same time, they refused to accept any decorations they were awarded.
A friend, a professional military historian with a PhD, once told me that the criteria established for the Canadian VC were so stringent that it was unlikely that anyone could meet them.
And as for previous wars, there was one recommendation from Korea that I am aware of, to a stretcher bearer in, I think, 2 RCR, but it was downgraded somewhere in the chain above brigade. I once did a study of the Boer War VCs. About half of the awards were for rescuing a comrade under fire. This would include the VC to Sergeant Richardson of the Strathconas. Last, Donald Graves's history of the South Alberta Regiment recounts how the CO read the citations for the first VCs in NWE and realized that Major David Currie's action at St-Lambert-sur-Dives was at least as noteworthy. However, he had only been recommended for a DSO. The CO talked to the Divisional Commander, who was able to intercept the recommendation before it was forwarded further, and supported its upgrade to a VC. See my first comment about the requirement to be recommended first before one could receive an award.*
* Re South Africa, the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry was the only Canadian unit to not have a non-commissioned member receive a gallantry award, either a VC or a DCM. The Queen's Scarf to Private Thompson does nor really count as it was not a gazetted decoration. Contrary to popular lore, Thompson had not been recommended for a VC once, let alone twice. After the war, a recommendation for a VC for him was submitted, but the deadline for recommendations had passed.