May 3, 2015 marks the centennial anniversary of the creation of the poem, In Flanders Fields by LCol John McCrae. McCrae was born in Guelph in 1872 and his birthplace home remains today as a museum. To honour this man and his famous poem, the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery commissioned famous sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, to create a statue of John McCrae at the historic moment.

Retired LCol Mike McKay, of the Regiment is head of the committee to erect the statue in Ottawa at the Military Monument site, near the Parliament buildings. Coincident with this group, a funding committee was formed in Guelph, headed by Honorary Chairman, Dr. William Winegard, a longtime and prominent citizen of Guelph, to erect a duplicate statue at the Guelph Civic Museum on June of 2015. June was chosen as it would permit the many Guelph school children to share in the fundraising and be in attendance at the moment of the unveiling.

  • 30 Nov 1872

    The Birthplace of John McCrae


    McCrae House is the birthplace of John McCrae (b. 1872- d. 1918), doctor, soldier and author of the famous First World War poem In Flanders Fields. This small limestone cottage, built c.1858, was owned by the McCrae family from 1870 to 1873.

    Other families occupied the house until 1966, when a group of Guelph citizens purchased the building with the intention of preserving it as a museum. This group formed the LCol John McCrae Birthplace Society and began to raise money for its restoration.

    The federal government through the Historic Sites & Monuments Board has designated both John McCrae as a person of national significance, and the house as a place of national significance. The operation of the museum was transferred to the City of Guelph in 1983 and along with Guelph Civic Museum, was merged under the name Guelph Museums.

  • Flanders Field Poem
    08 Dec 1915

    In Flanders Fields

    LCol John McCrae was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

    According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it.

    In Flanders Fields was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine, Punch.

  • 07 Jun 2012

    Plans afoot to erect McCrae monument

    In the news: More

  • Guelph Civic Museum

    Guelph Civic Museum

    Much thought and discussion was given to the site selection. It was unanimously agreed that the optimum location should be by the Guelph Civic Museum, a prominent public building that is centrally located at, 52 Norfolk St. adjacent to The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the most visible landmark in the city.

    The site itself will be beautifully landscaped to compliment this monument.

  • A quote from Dr. Winegard, honoury chair

    "As a young boy, my mother and father always made sure my friends and I wore a poppy on Rememberance Day. My father was a WWI 16-year-old soldier, wounded at The Somme. The poppy and the poem were symbols of his stuggle to survive and mourn his friends. The poem says it all--honour, love, and death--all the things McCrae wrote about." - Dr. Winegard, honoury chair

    BIO: Dr. William Winegard

    • Joined the Navy as a coder in 1942 (aged 17)
    • Served 3 1/2 years on the North Atlantic on convoy duty
    • Finished in 1945 as the youngest-qualified navigating officer in RCNVR
    • President of the University of Guelph - 1967-75
    • M.P. for Guelph 1984-93 including four years as Minister for Science
    • Awarded Officer of the Order of Canada - 1998
  • 11th Field Regiment

    Sons of Wellington County, Proudly Serving With Distinction Since 1887

    The 11th Field Artillery Regiment had its earliest origin in 1857 but was renamed in 1887 and commanded by Captain David McCrae (43rd Ontario Battery), LCol John McCrae’s father. The Regiment has served with valour and distinction in the Boer War, WWI and WWII.

    It was during the second battle of Ypres,1915, in France, that the poem was written, and inspired by grief for a fallen friend from Guelph.

    Today, the regiment serves the public in many ways. In more recent years, members of the Regiment have served in Cyprus with the UN Forces in 1993, with NATO and UN forces in the Golan Heights, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Afghanistan in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010. They also assist when called, to help in time of natural disasters or help support local charitable organizations and their fund drives.

  • Remember Flanders - the proposal maquette

    Remember Flanders - the proposal maquette

    A small version of the proposed design was created and submitted as part of the Artist Selection process. Once accepted, the design was reviewed and small adjustments were done to raise McCrae's head.

    On completion of the poem, John McCrae signed his name and paused for a moment to look across the battlefield.

    Twenty Three small poppies were added for each of Canada's 23 regiments and a tiny cap was placed, as though McCrae had set it on his medic's kit.

    This bronze maquette is approximately 10" long x 10" high and is cast hollow, just like the large portrait will be. The colouration in bronze is called patina which is created by heating the metal and adding chemicals to the surface.

  • 17 Sep 2013

    McCrae monument takes shape

    In the news: More

  • A Studio Visit with Project Head, LCol Mike McKay

    A Studio Visit with Project Head, LCol Mike McKay

    Project Head, LCol Mike McKay and 11th Field Artillery Regiment Honorary Colonel, Col Gary Burton, visit Ruth's studio to see work in progress.

    The head study for John McCrae had already been sculpted separately, approved and molded, and it will be mounted on the hand-sculpted styrene figure, which is enlarged by 150% life size. The figure and log, on which he's seated, were sculpted as one piece. Both ends of the log, and the base of rock and dirt, were sculpted in another studio. The sections fit together beautifully after 4 months of shaping styrene, and adding a finishing layer of wax by hand.

    This wax supports the lost wax casting method which is very similar to the method used to make jewellery but on a larger scale.

    During this studio visit, LCol Mike McKay approved two sizes of crested buttons, the cap badge and uniform details specific to John McCrae, 1915.

  • 10 Apr 2014

    Monument to a humanitarian

    In the news: More

  • Detail of McCrae with partially complete uniform

    Detail of McCrae with partially complete uniform

    The balance of the figure was precisely planned so that McCrae would appear to have weight and not seem to 'float'. He also had to look comfortable on the fallen log. The composition was mapped onto a paper pattern, traced onto styrene, and carved using heavy sandpaper and a very sharp knife. The riding pants needed careful research as the folds drape according to how the fabric pattern pieces are seamed together. Jodphurs are constructed so there is no thick seam between the rider and the saddle. The carving remains upright during most of the sculpting process so gravity can dictate how the fabric will sag around the figure.

    In this photo, wax has been added to the carved jodphurs but the puttees are not yet complete.

  • The Studio Team

    The Studio Team

    Two assistants, Cassie Koch (pictured above with Ruth) and Lynette Schlichting, worked on the McCrae trees and base. Ruth's method of enlarging was followed precisely so that components created independently would fit seamlessly in the final assembly. Apart from the sheer size of the sculpture, it was simpler to separate the figure from the base in order to sculpt and access all surfaces that required waxing.

    Wax is brushed on or added with a palette knife, either as a liquid or a warm paste and then scraped with a modelling tool. If carving is accurate, the wax layer might be only a quarter of an inch thick.

  • mock

    Surface over Structure - Detailing Wax over the Carved Form

    The applied wax surface holds the detail of the sculpted form, and is tooled by hand.

    This uniform must have the look of standard issue wool fabric, complete with creases and convincing wear. The tunic style needed to be precise, with an ample hem. All enlisted men in WWI would have ridden, or known how to ride horses. Large pockets were essential, as were the puttees that wrapped their pant legs and small hooks that held Sam Brown shoulder belts onto the tunics.

    The wax at room temperature, is solid and can be scraped/tooled but cannot be shaped with fingers.

  • John McCrae, Completed in wax and Secured for Viewing

    John McCrae, Completed in wax and Secured for Viewing

    A preliminary assembly in the studio assured us that the pieces would assemble well and the segments were transported to the foundry in a covered truck. Luckily, it was a winter day so we had no concerns that the wax would soften and distort in shape.

    With the foundry winch we suspended the figure above the base, aligned McCrae's log seat and pinned the components together. The sculpture was then finished, but it remained delicate in comparison to its own weight, hence the careful trussing to avoid breakage.

  • Window Painting on Cork Street MP Office

    Get your storefront window painted for free!

    Community artist supports the project by offering her talents to spread the word

    Here's the window painting by Dorothy Amey on display at the MP office on Cork Street, Guelph.

    "I have military history in my family. My Father was a Sergeant and tank instructor at Camp Borden. I have three surviving uncles that served in World War II in the army, navy, and airforce. I am proud to live in a city, the birthplace for such a famous man (John McCrae). I love to paint windows and to paint the new statue that will be gracing the museum grounds in Guelph to me is an honour." - Dorothy Amey, artist

    Contact Dorothy to find out how to get your window painted in support of the project too!

  • A window painting by Dorothy Amey at the Guelph Legion

    Have you seen this window?

    This window painting by Dorothy Amey can be viewed at the Guelph Legion More

  • mock

    Another reminder of McCrae in Guelph

    This window painting by Dorothy Amey is at Bullfrog Mall Library. Have you seen it? More

  • Overpass banner
    Oct 2014

    Banner goes up in Guelph to spread awareness

    See the LCol John McCrae banner as you drive under the overpass bridge by Church of Our Lady. Be a part of the legacy!

  • LCol John McCrae to be inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
    07 Oct 2014

    The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, ON – Dr. Jean Gray, Chair of The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and Drs. Brian Postl and Arnold Naimark, Co-Chairs of the 2015 Induction Committee, announced today that Dr. Alan Bernstein, Dr. Judith G. Hall, Dr. Bernard Langer, The late Dr. John McCrae, Dr. Julio Montaner and Dr. Duncan G. Sinclair have been selected for induction to The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.


  • 10 Oct 2014

    LCol Mike McKay (ret) Spoke with The Guelph Rotary Club About The LCol John McCrae Statue Project

    LCol Mike McKay, chair of the fund raising committee for the LCol John McCrae Statue, gave the Club an overview of the various stages of the project.


  • Big boost for McCrae statue plans makes news in the Guelph Tribune
    14 Oct 2014

    Big boost for McCrae statue plans makes news in the Guelph Tribune

    On the bridge over Norfolk Street, Scutt Sign’s Rob Weir (at left), John McCrae statue fundraising committee chair Bill Winegard and fundraising committee member Margaret VanderWoude pose for a photo with a newly hung campaign sign.

    Tribune photo by Jessica Lovell


    17 Oct 2014


    The Storm are proud to unveil plans for the team's annual Veterans Week game on Sunday, November 9 vs. the London Knights.

    In addition to a special pre-game ceremony, the Storm will be wearing one-of-a-kind jerseys to commemorate Canadian veterans, with specific reference to Guelph's own proud history.

    The jerseys worn during the game will be auctioned, with all net proceeds going to fundraising efforts toward the unveiling of a life-like statue of one of Guelph's most famous sons, LCol John McCrae.


  • Poppy Seeds

    Poppies in every Guelph garden

    Printed in part by The Guelph Tribune, Oct 14, 2014. By Jessica Lovell.

    Committee member Margaret VanderWoude is working on another type of campaign related to the statue. She is distributing packets of poppy seeds throughout the city in hopes of getting everyone in Guelph to plant the iconic crimson flowers in their gardens.

    “We want Guelph to be full of poppies” by the time the statue is unveiled in June. The seed project is not about generating more donations, but is meant to offer another way that people can be a part of the statue legacy. “We want everyone in Guelph to be able to plant poppy seeds as a way to say thank you to our veterans,” she said. The seeds will be available at restaurants and businesses around town, and the committee also hopes to hand them out to school children in Guelph.

    How to get some poppy seed packages

    Seeds are available at:

    • Guelph Public libraries
    • Guelph rec centres
    • The Legion
    • Various businesses in the city - look for the packages!
    • Or by contacting Margaret

    How to plant poppy seeds

    The seeds can be planted in early November or in the Spring, right after the snow melts. According to Clare Martin of Ontario Seed Company (supplier of the seeds), Fall plantings are done so the seed gets in the soil but does not mature to a full grown plant. This gives the plant a jump start next year. We recommend sowing around November first in this area, as a dormant seeding. The fall planting is done so not to germinate, but to get the seed in the soil for an early start the following year.

    Everyone in Guelph can get some seeds so they can be a part of the legacy too!

  • 30 Apr 2015

    Royal Canadian Mint Commemorates 100th Anniversary of In Flanders Fields with Silver Collector Coins

    Royal Canadian Mint Commemorates 100th Anniversary of In Flanders Fields with Silver Collector Coins

    One hundred years after Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned In Flanders Fields on the battlefield of Ypres, Belgium, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued silver collectors coins commemorating the iconic poem which honours all those who risked or sacrificed their lives in defense of democratic values, and inspired the adoption of the poppy as a universal symbol of remembrance. A one-ounce silver coin capturing the stirring imagery of In Flanders Fields was unveiled today with descendants of LCol McCrae at a special ceremony held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. A coloured five-ounce silver coin is also being issued to commemorate this milestone.


  • 30 Apr 2015

    Canada Post announces release of new stamp

    Canada Post announces release of new stamp

    Canada Post will issue a stamp to mark the 100th anniversary of the poignant poem that made the poppy an international symbol of wartime sacrifices and has been recited in ceremonies for a century.

    “Our stamps reveal what is of value to Canadians – including what bonds us from one generation to another. This poem is written indelibly on our hearts in a way that helps us honour those who gave their lives in the service of this country,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO, Canada Post.


  • The cloaked statue
    25 Jun 2015

    The statue, awaiting to be revealed

    Photo credit - Eric Brohman

  • Governor General David Johnston
    25 Jun 2015

    Governor General David Johnston attended the unveiling ceremony of the LCol John McCrae Statue in Guelph

    Photo credit - Eric Brohman

  • LCol Mike McKay (Retired)
    25 Jun 2015

    LCol Mike McKay (Retired) spoke to the crowd during the unveiling ceremoney of the statue dedicated to LCol John McCrae

    Photo credit - Eric Brohman

  • Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie
    25 Jun 2015

    Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie shared a few words with his fellow Guelphites during the ceremony

    Photo credit - Eric Brohman

  • The Studio Team
    25 Jun 2015

    The finished statue is now on public display at the Guelph Museum

    Photo credit - Eric Brohman