November, Poppies blossom on the lapels and collars
of over half of Canada’s entire population. Since
1921, the Poppy has stood as a symbol of
Remembrance, our visual pledge to never forget all
those Canadians who have fallen in war and military
operations. The Poppy also stands internationally as
a “symbol of collective reminiscence”, as other
countries have also adopted its image to honour
those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
significance of the Poppy can be traced to
association of the Poppy to those who had been
killed in war has existed since the Napoleonic Wars
in the 19th century, over 110 years before being
adopted in Canada. There exists a record from that
time of how thickly Poppies grew over the graves of
soldiers in the area of Flanders, France. This early
connection between the Poppy and battlefield deaths
described how fields that were barren before the
battles exploded with the blood-red flowers after
the fighting ended.
to the First World War, few Poppies grew in
Flanders. During the tremendous bombardments of that
war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from
rubble, allowing “popaver rhoes” to thrive. When the
war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the
Poppy began to disappear again.
who was responsible more than any other for the
adoption of the Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance in
Canada and the Commonwealth was
John McCrae, a Canadian Medical Officer during the
First World War.