Following the Great War, the poppy became a profound symbol of war-time remembrance in many countries, including Canada, around the world.
Today, people across Canada remember the sacrifices of fallen heroes by wearing a poppy throughout the month of November; however, the poppy’s association to those killed in the war traces its roots to the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, during which time the red flower suddenly bloomed in war-torn fields where countless soldiers died.
During the First World War, in Flanders Fields, the upturned the soil exposed dormant corn poppy seeds—a common weed in the grain fields of Europe—to the light it needed to grow.
In 1915, Canadian doctor and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae immortalized the poppy in his famous poem, In Flanders Fields, which inspired the adoption of handmade poppies to be worn in memory of those who died in the war and to raise money for veterans and their families.
POPPY COINS SINCE 2004
The Royal Canadian Mint has issued coins to mark Remembrance Day since 2004, when it struck its first 25-cent poppy coin. With a red poppy stamped on the reverse, this coin was also the world’s first coloured circulation coin. The coin was later named Most Innovative Circulation Coin at the Mint Directors’ Conference in Paris, France.
In 2008, the Mint marked the 90th anniversary of the Armistice in association with the Royal Canadian Legion. In addition to issuing another red 25-cent poppy coin, it also issued a limited-edition poppy bookmark featuring the 2008 25-cent coloured poppy circulation coin; a commemorative set marking the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War including the 2008 25-cent uncirculated coin depicting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa; and a limited-edition poppy Proof silver dollar featuring a finely sculpted poppy in ultra-high relief.
In 2010, the Mint issuing a 25-cent poppy circulation coin along with two commemorative releases, including a collector card with the 2010 25-cent poppy coin and limited-edition Proof silver dollar featuring the poppy.
More recently, in 2015, the Mint issued a $2 circulation coin commemorating McCrae’s iconic poem as well as a 25-cent circulation coin featuring a life-like poppy design.
One hundred years after McCrae penned In Flanders Fields on the battlefield of Ypres, Belgium, these coins were unveiled at a special ceremony held at McCrae House in Guelph, Ont.
“One hundred years after they were penned on the battlefield, the moving words of In Flanders Fields continue to remind us that the peace and freedom we enjoy every day as Canadians is the ultimate gift of our veterans,” said Royal Canadian Legion Dominion President Tom Eagles. “By collecting the circulation coins issued by the Mint today, Canadians will have a permanent way to remember the sacrifices of all our veterans, as well as learn more about Lt. Col. John McCrae’s historic contribution to honouring their memory.”