100 years of the poppy in Canada

One hundred years ago, Canada adopted what would become the symbol of remembrance for millions of Canadians and veterans in our country.

And as small as it is, it’s made a big difference in the lives of those who have served.

Every November, Canadians wear the poppy to honour those who fought for our country.

“The poppy is a symbol for all soldiers, most soldiers across the whole world actually,” says retired Master Corporal, Michael Trauner. “When that poppy is worn, it’s a representation too, of all your brothers and sisters in arms that have given up their lives, and their families, so that others in our country can actually enjoy freedom and all the other privileges that go with living in Canada.”

On July 6, 1921, Canada became the first country to support the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

“It’s a visual pledge for Canadians to say, 'I remember what our veterans did for us,'” says National Executive Director of the Royal Canadian Legion, Steven Clark. “It all started back in the First World War with John McCrae. That’s when he wrote his famous poem, In Flanders Fields.”

A French woman, Madame Anna Guérin, heard that poem and created fabric poppies to help rebuild regions of France destroyed by war. She then shared her idea with Canada.

“She had developed an idea, being inspired by John McCrae, that she could use the poppy as a symbol of remembrance but also as a way to raise funds,” says Clark.

Retired Master Corporal Natacha Dupius served in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 16 years. She has been supporting veterans since she was a young girl.

“It has a very deep meaning for me,” says Dupius. “As a kid I used to wear the poppy to remember those who have fought in world war two especially. And now most of us know at least one person that has lost their lives, perhaps in Afghanistan.”

Approximately $17 million is raised every year in Canada through the legion’s poppy campaign, but this year they are offering something special.

“We have developed a replica poppy,” says Clark. “Very similar to what (Guérin) had designed, and very different from what you think of as the lapel poppy of today. We are making that poppy available this year, as a special commemorative item.”

The Legion’s 100 year anniversary commemorative poppy.

Visit the Royal Canadian Legion website to purchase your own 100-year anniversary poppy.