John McCrae’s War

How a First World War Canadian army doctor came to write a poem that, a hundred years later, continues to stir the hearts of people around the world.

Text by Canada’s History staff

March 9, 2015

John McCrae's War: In Flanders Fields by Robert Duncan, National Film Board of Canada

Most Canadians are familiar with the poem “In Flanders Fields,” which has long been a staple of Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The often-recited poem was the work of Canadian First World War physician John McCrae, who wrote it on the battlefront in Ypres, Belgium, in 1915.

Its reference to poppies growing over the graves of the fallen led to the flower being used to symbolize remembrance of soldiers who die in conflict.

The lasting impact of the poem was likely something its creator could never have anticipated.

An article about McCrae by historian J. Andrew Ross appeared in the April-May 2015 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

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