Author: Leanne Piper

Publication Date: 2015

Edited: 2023



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Statue of John McCrae in front of the Guelph Civic Museum.


One hundred years ago, Lieutenant-Colonel (Lt.-Col.) John McCrae raised his pen and lit a torch that still burns today. McCrae was still reeling from the death of his friend Lt. Alexis Helmer on May 2nd, 1915 when, according to popular account, he wrote, "In Flanders Fields," on the back step of an ambulance amidst the chaos and casualties of the Second Battle of Ypres (Belgium). McCrae was serving a military doctor and second-in-command of the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. The centenary anniversary of the writing and publication of, "In Flanders Fields," will be celebrated across Canada in 2015. Locally, Guelph will host a number of special celebrations, as follows:


  • Until August 9th:
    "Remembering In Flanders Fields" is a juried art show featuring works of art inspired by McCrae's poem, at the Guelph Civic Museum.


  • April 24th - August 9th:
    "Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times-Italian Canadian Experiences During WWII." This exhibition from the Columbus Centre will be on display at Guelph Civic Museum.


  • Thursday, May 28th:
    Smile Theatre presents, "In Flanders Fields," at Knox Presbyterian Church, A production by Nicky Phillips and Robert Gontier, this one- act musical is set during the Second Battle of Ypres and weaves through the story of McCrae's life and the events that inspired the famous poem. The event is hosted by Knox Presbyerian Church and sponsored by the Guelph Historical Society.


  • May 2015:
    A newly renovated McCrae House will re-open with new permanent exhibitions about John McCrae's life in Guelph and his medical, military and artistic pursuits.


  • July 2nd - August 8th:
    "A Night in Flanders," an original one-act play by local playwright Donald Macrae, will take place in the McCrae House backyard Wednesdays to Saturdays at 7 P.M. Tickets can be purchased online at


  • Sunday, August 2nd:
    Eighth Annual Kirking: John Galt Day Sunday.
    St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 161 Norfolk Street (home congregation of McCrae family).


  • August 21st - November 15th:
    "Fighting In Flanders - Gas. Mud. Memory," and exhibition from the Canadian War Museum at the Guelph Civic Museum.
  • Saturday, September 26th:
    "Merrymaking at the Museum: 1915," will feature live music and live and silent auctions to support Guelph Museums. Tickets at
  • Sunday, September 27th:
    John McCrae Guelph Tour. Participants can walk, bike, or drive from site to site for an animated tour of important landmarks in John McCrae's life. Tickets available online at starting July 2nd.
  • October 2nd - October 10th:
    In the Footsteps of John McCrae: Tour of France and Belgium." Guelph Museums is partnering with Frederick Travel Waterloo to offer travel to Europe with Guelph Museums' curator and renowned John McCrae expert, Bev Dietrich, visiting important First World War landmarks, and the places where John McCrae served as soldier and doctor, including where he was inspired to write, "In Flanders Fields." To register, contact Ingrid Nardella at Frederick Travel,
  • November 11th:
    Remembrance Day ceremonies at McCrae House and McCrae Memorial Gardens. Services are coordinated by the Royal Canadian Legion and John McCrae Public School.

To honour and memorialize the 100th Anniversary of Lt.-Col. John McCrae's writing and publication of, "In Flanders Fields," the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery commissioned renowned sculptor Ruth Abernethy to create a statue of McCrae. From her studio in Wellesley, Ontario, the art has gradually taken shape, while simultaneous fundraising has taken place and site preparations have been completed. Two locations - Ottawa and Guelph - will honour McCrae nationally and locally. Each statue will be unveiled at a special ceremony.


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  • May 3, 2015:
    National Artillery Memorial, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


  • June 25, 2015:
    Guelph Civic Museum, Guelph, ON, Canada.