FROM THE COLLECTION // The Museum of Vancouver’s Poignant 1921 ‘Decoration Day’ Poppy

FROM THE COLLECTION aims to introduce readers to the inventories of local art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions, not via official exhibition notes but by way of the people that help manage and maintain the collections themselves.

“This poppy is a tangible connection to the 1921 origin of our practice in Canada of wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day. Initially, the funds raised from the sale of cloth poppies went to the widows and children of France left destitute after WWI…”

For this edition From The Collection, we asked Wendy Nichols, Curator of Collections at the Museum of Vancouver, to share a museum piece that really spoke to her. With Remembrance Day front of mind, she shared with us the collection’s 1921 Decoration Day Poppy. It marked an old Canadian holiday that used to celebrate our military veterans. Decoration Day (originally June 2nd, 1890) predates Remembrance Day by several decades.

“This poppy is a tangible connection to the 1921 origin of our practice in Canada of wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day. Initially, the funds raised from the sale of cloth poppies went to the widows and children of France left destitute after WWI. For me, the passion, commitment and labour that Madame E. Guérin put to the cause of helping people in need through the poppy day campaign is inspirational. Poppies are now worn on November 11th in Commonwealth countries, alongside Belgium and France. It is moving that her work has resulted in such a tremendous legacy.”

Take a look at more objects in the collection here.


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