Discovery Moment: 100th Anniversary of the Poppy

A symbol of hope that united people in their remembrance, the humble poppy turns 100 years old in 2021. Each November, boxes of poppies are placed on counter tops and adorned over our hearts to help raise money to support legions, veteran housing, and provide veteran jobs. 650,000 Canadian men and women served during the First World War. Those who were blessed enough to come home struggled to find work, support their families, and understand the mental health issues that plagued them. The sale of poppies across the U.K, Canada, and the U.S.A. play an important role in providing much needed services for veterans of all wars through the past several decades.

The Great War was brutal on humanity and on the pitted landscape of Europe. Amongst this darkness grew a bright, simple flower, the poppy. The sight of these flowers inspired the famous poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

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)

Poppy Lady Madame Guérin. Wichita Daily Eagle, Kansas, 12 June 1918.

Many people and organizations came together to make the poppy, the symbol of remembrance. One of the most notable is Anna Guérin, a teacher from France. When war broke out in France, she fled with her daughters to the U.S. where she promoted Poppy Day in several states before traveling to London to do the same. Her campaign raised money for destitute soldiers returning home from war. Anna ensured the poppies supported the widowed women and children of soldiers by giving them work hand making poppies.  She personally funded 1 million poppies and over 9 million sold the first year. Her contributions to the lives of veterans and their families over the past 100 years is immeasurable.

While the poppy is a symbol shared by Canada, the U.S. and Britain. Each country has their own unique version.

Come to the Musée Héritage Museum to pick up a Remembrance Day Poppy Craft Bag or try one of these 10 poppy crafts at home