Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Statue
Municipality/Province: Ottawa, ON
Memorial Number: 35061-096
Type: Sculpture with plaque
Address: Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON
Location: Green Island
GPS Coordinates: Lat: 45.440141 Long: -75.696289
Contributor: Victoria Edwards
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was the Canadian soldier, doctor and poet who wrote In Flanders Fields during the First World War. Born in Guelph, Ontario in 1872, he served with an artillery battery in the South African War and had a successful civilian medical career. When the First World War broke out in 1914, the patriotic 41-year-old enlisted again and would be appointed brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery.
During the 2nd Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, McCrae was tending to the wounded in a part of Belgium traditionally called Flanders. On May 2, a close friend was killed in action and this painful loss inspired McCrae to write In Flanders Fields the next day. It would be published in Britain’s Punch magazine and quickly became one of the best-known poems of the war, helping make the poppy an international symbol of remembrance. Sadly, Lieutenant-Colonel McCrae would not survive the conflict, dying of illness in January 1918.
The Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Statue in Ottawa features a large likeness of McCrae in the uniform of an artillery officer, with his medical bag at his feet and poppies growing nearby amidst the destruction of a battlefield. Designed by Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy, it was erected by the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Medical Service. This beautiful monument stands beside the National Artillery Memorial and was unveiled on May 3, 2015 – the 100thanniversary of the writing of his renowned poem.
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).
Inscription found on memorial
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
Some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium. It was during the Second Battle of Ypres that the German Army first used deadly chlorine gas against Allied troops. Despite the debilitating effects of the gas, Canadian soldiers fought relentlessly and held the line. Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields after presiding over the burial of a friend during this battle.
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