In 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian Artillery, famously made note of the poppy in his poem, In Flanders Fields. The Poppy has been widely recognized as a symbol of Remembrance, since it was first adopted in 1921. By wearing the poppy, we demonstrate our gratitude to those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy.
Each year, for two weeks before Remembrance Day, Legions throughout Ontario carry out our Poppy Campaign. The campaign raises awareness of the Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance. The Royal Canadian Legion suggests that the poppy be worn on the left lapel of a garment and as close to the heart as possible.
The basic purpose of the poppy funds is to provide immediate assistance to ex-servicemen and women in need. This may include food shelter or medical attention for them or their families.
The Poppy Campaign begins on the last Friday in October and continues through to November 11th.
The Lapel Poppy can be worn every day of the Poppy Campaign and is removed at the end of the Remembrance Day ceremony.
After expenses, such as the cost of poppies, wreaths and other supplies are deducted, all remaining moneys are placed in trust to be used on those purposes authorized in the General By-laws of The Royal Canadian Legion. Campaign expenses are generally low, because most of the work is voluntary.
The Legion’s constitution stresses that poppy funds must be held in trust. They are held in a bank account separate from that of the branch general funds and cannot be used for any purpose other than those stipulated.
Some of the items the Poppy Campaign funds are used for include, but are not limited to, are:
- Educational Bursaries;
- Comforts for veteran in hospital or hospitalized veterans;
- Community medical appliances;
- Medical research;
- Medical training;
- Donations for disaster relief for disasters declared by Federal and Provincial Governments;
- Expenses of the Branch Veteran Services Chairman;
- Prizes for the annual Remembrance Day Poster and Literary (Poem and Essay) Contests;
- Legion service bureau offices;
- Any ex-serviceman or woman or dependent is eligible to apply for financial aid from the poppy, whether they are Legion members, or not;
- Monuments / Cenotaphs; and
- Support of cadet units.
In 1931, after insistent representation from the Canadian Legion, parliament enacted the Armistice Day Act. The Act ensured that November 11th would be set aside as a day distinct and apart from any other observance upon which the nation could pay special tribute to those “who gave their lives that freedom might prevail“.
In 1970, an act, known as “The Holidays Act“, was passed by Parliament which included, among other holidays, Remembrance Day. An extract of that act reads as follows:
“Throughout Canada in each and every year, the 11th day of November, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a holiday and shall be kept and observed as such under the name of Remembrance Day.”
Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace. We remember the more than 2,300,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice.