PROVENANCE OF THE POPPY

Nanaimo Historical Society Director Darrell Ohs has investigated the history of the poppy worn on Remembrance Day.

The Nanaimo Free Press, issue 07 November 1925, appealed to its readers to “Wear a VETCRAFT Poppy on Armistice Day”, because the flowers were “visible evidence of remembrance” that also provided “funds on local centres for relief of an assistance of the needy and distressed among veterans and to give employment to the seriously disabled.”

The Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment entered an agreement with VETCRAFT Industries to employ physically and psychologically traumatized war veterans to produce poppies and various household items in workshops across the country.

The rear of this poppy pictured bears the VETCRAFT trademark along with the emblem of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League. The Great War Veterans Association along with multiple, but disconnected, veterans’ support associations that sprung up after the war, amalgamated and was incorporated by a special Act of Parliament in July 1926. The prefix “Royal” in “Royal Canadian Legion” was added after Queen Elizabeth II gave her consent in 1960.

So, the markings on this particular poppy determine that it dates to no earlier than 1926 and no later than 1959.

The vintage is most obvious in that the main flower is comprised of velvet flocked paper rather than the moulded plastic of the contemporary poppy construction in recent decades. 

We acknowledge that we meet on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people from whom Nanaimo takes its name.