The Poppy

Questions and Answers

When can poppies be worn daily?

The official start of the Poppy Campaign and the distribution of poppies to the general public begin on the last Friday in October and run until November 11. Presentations of poppies to the Governor General and the lieutenant governors are made in advance of the official campaign start date.

The lapel poppy may be worn throughout the whole of the remembrance period and is removed at the end of Remembrance Day. Many people place their poppy at the base of the cenotaph, as a sign of respect, at the end of the Remembrance Day ceremony, which is also fully acceptable.

Is it proper to wear a poppy to commemorative events at any point during the calendar year or should the poppy be worn only during the Poppy Campaign?

Although it is traditional for the poppy to be worn only during the annual remembrance period, a person may also wear one at certain other times. It is not unusual for poppies to be worn at commemorative events throughout the year, such as anniversaries of significant battles, a memorial service at a Royal Canadian Legion convention, and other similar occasions. For example, they are often worn during Veterans Affairs Canada overseas events. The poppy may also be worn by Colour parties when on parade and by Legion members attending funeral services for Veterans or ordinary members. The best approach is to follow the lead of the event organizers.

If you are organizing an event, you can seek advice from the Royal Canadian Legion, which oversees policy and procedures surrounding the use of the poppy.

How should the poppy be worn?

The Royal Canadian Legion suggests that the poppy be worn on the left lapel of a garment and/or as close to the heart as possible.

Poppy Facts

  • During the Napoleonic Wars, the poppy drew attention as the mysterious flower that bloomed over the graves of fallen soldiers.
  • In the 20th century, the poppy again was widely noticed after soils in France and Belgium became rich in lime from rubble during the First World War. The little red flowers flourished around the graves of the war dead as they had 100 years earlier.
  • In 1915, Guelph, Ontario native John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian Artillery, recorded this phenomenon in his famous poem In Flanders Fields.
  • Two days before the Armistice, Moina Michael, an American woman from Athens, Georgia, read the McCrae poem and was inspired to wear a poppy year-round in memory of the war dead.
  • In 1920, Madame E. Guérin of France visited the United States and happened to meet Miss Michael at the YMCA at Columbia University, where the latter was a volunteer. Madame Guérin then resolved to sell handmade poppies around Armistice Day to raise money for poor children in the war-torn areas of Europe.
  • In 1921, Field Marshall Earl Haig, the former commander-in-chief of the British Armies in France and Belgium and the principal founder of the British Legion, was sold on Madame Guérin’s fundraising idea and approved organization of the British Poppy Day Appeal by the Legion to raise money for poor and disabled Veterans.
  • The same year, Madame Guérin visited Canada and convinced the Great War Veterans Association of Canada (predecessor to the Royal Canadian Legion) to similarly adopt the poppy as a symbol of remembrance in aid of fundraising.
  • Today, the Poppy Campaign is one of the Royal Canadian Legion’s most important programs. The money raised from donations to the campaign provides direct assistance for Veterans in financial distress, as well as funding for medical appliances and research, home services, care facilities and numerous other purposes.
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