The History of the Poppy

Lest we forget

From the last Friday in October to Remembrance Day on November 11th, millions of Canadians wear a Poppy as a visual pledge to never forget those who sacrificed their lives at war for our freedom.

The person who first introduced the Poppy to Canada and the Commonwealth was Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario, a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War.

John McCrae penned the Poem “In Flanders Fields” on a scrap of paper in May, 1915 on the day following the death of his closest friend, who was killed in the fighting and buried in a makeshift grave with a simple wooden cross. Wild poppies were already beginning to bloom between the crosses marking the many graves, so unable to help his friend or any of the others who had died, John McCrae gave them a voice through his poem.

The poem served as inspiration three years later for Moina Michael, an American teacher, who made a pledge to always wear a Poppy as a sign of Remembrance. And from that time on, the poppy was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead of Britain, France, the United States, Canada and other Commonwealth countries.

The Great War Veteran’s Association in Canada officially adopted the poppy as its Flower of Remembrance on July 5, 1921, and today, the Poppy is worn each year during the Remembrance period to honour Canada's Fallen.

For us, Remembrance Day is a special occasion to pay tribute to the courage and loyalty of all our veterans. Without their effort we wouldn't be here today.

On November 11 at the 11th hour wear a Poppy, be grateful, and offer two minutes of silence in respect to all the veterans that helped to build our country.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

~ May 3, 1915

(As published in Punch Magazine, December 8, 1915)

History of the poppy extracted from

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