The poppy became a profound symbol of wartime remembrance in many countries shortly after WWI.
The association of the poppy to those killed in the war, however, dates back to the Napoleonic wars in the 19th Century, during which time the red flower suddenly bloomed in war-torn fields where countless soldiers had died.
The reason this phenomenon was seen as mysterious is because the poppies bloomed in fields where the land had long been barren, as was the case in Flanders Fields, France in WWI. During the war, bombs, artillery shells, and shrapnel upturned the soil exposing dormant corn poppy seeds – a common weed in grain fields across Europe – to the light it needed to grow. The blood-red flowers painted an almost incredulous scene as they swayed over the graves of fallen soldiers.
In 1915, Canadian doctor and soldier John McCrae recorded this phenomenon in his famous poem In Flanders Fields, immortalizing the symbol of the poppy.
His poem inspired a series of events that led to the adoption of handmade poppies to be worn in memory of those who fell in the war and to raise money for veterans and their families.
Today, people from all parts of Canada choose to display their collective reminiscence and remember the sacrifices of fallen heroes by wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day.
The Royal Canadian Mint is extremely proud to contribute to the memory of fallen soldiers by issuing commemorative coins to mark Remembrance Day.
In 2004, we produced our very first 25-cent poppy coin. With a red poppy stamped on the reverse, this state-of-the art, innovative coin was the world’s first coloured circulation coin and quickly became a collector’s item. The coin was later named Most Innovative Circulation Coin at the Mint Directors' Conference (MDC) in Paris, France.
In 2008, we marked the 90th anniversary of the Armistice in association with the Royal Canadian Legion. In addition to issuing yet another iconic red poppy 25-cent coin , we also produced three commemorative keepsakes:
- A limited edition poppy bookmark featuring the 2008 25-cent coloured poppy circulation coin. One dollar from the sale of each bookmark was donated to the Legion's Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund, which provides financial aid to Canada's veterans and their dependants.
- 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. Three soldiers representing Canada's land, sea and air forces stand in tribute. The set also includes the 25-cent poppy circulation coin.
- A limited edition poppy proof silver dollar featuring a finely sculpted poppy in ultra-high relief.
In 2010, we are issuing a new 25-cent poppy circulation coin along with two commemorative products:
- A collector card featuring the 2010 25-cent poppy coin. For every card sold, we will donate $5 to the Military Families Fund.
- A limited edition proof silver dollar poppy coin
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders Fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields.
- John McCrae