Remember Flanders – Ottawa, Ontario - Atlas Obscura

Remember Flanders

Dedicated to the writer who immortalized the use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance of those who died in wars. 

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Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae served during World War I in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a surgeon, although he is best known for his poem In Flanders Fields. The poem’s symbolism of the poppy would lead to its use as a sign of remembrance.

Born in 1872, McCrae graduated from medical school in 1898. He later served as a professor of pathology, and a pathologist at several Canadian Hospitals. He was also a member of the Royal College of Physicians. 

In 1914, with the outbreak of WWI at age 41, he enlisted and served in Belgium where he was appointed as a medical officer. During the Second Battle of Ypres, his friend Alexis Helmer was killed in the battle, and his burial inspired the poem written on May 3, 1915.At the encouragement of others, he decided to publish the poem, anonymously at first in December 1915, though later it would be attributed to McCrae. The poem was reprinted and used extensively to generate support for the war efforts. His use of the poppy was adopted as the flower and symbol of remembrance for those who had died in wars.McCrae died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918. He is buried in France.

Know Before You Go

The statue is accessible via Sussex Drive and is located on Green Island, in front of the old Ottawa City Hall (John G. Diefenbaker Building).

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December 26, 2022

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