No one knows how many metres—or kilometres– of yarn they used, but members of the Cercle des fermières in Chute-à-Blondeau have knitted or crocheted 16,338 poppies for Remembrance Day.
Out of all of the poppies made, 15,783 of them are currently displayed indoors and outdoors at St-Joachim Roman Catholic Church in Chute-à-Blondeau. The remaining 555 were distributed in return for donations at the Salon des artisans craft show the club held on November 3. Each one had a safety pin attached so it could be securely affixed to clothing. All funds raised from the donations are being given to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund.
The cultural and artisanal organization for women heard about a similar project in Calgary last year and decided to do one of their own.
“We decided in January to do this,” said past president Marjolaine Sabourin.
The Cercle des fermières in Chute-à-Blondeau has about 50 members, about 40 of them are regular participants in its activities.
“The Queen of the Poppies planned everything,” said President Francine Villeneuve about Cercle member Joanne Cyr who spearheaded the effort. Cyr made 5,000 of the poppies herself, with the rest of the duties being shared by other club members.
According to Villeneuve, there are two reasons the Cercle des fermières decided to go ahead with its poppy project. The first is that on September 13, it was 10 years since 21 year-old Corporal Patrick Lormand of Chute-à-Blondeau was killed in the Panjwaii District of Afghanistan while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces as a member of the Royal 22e Regiment and the Cercle wanted to honour his memory.
The second reason is that June 6, 2019 was also the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in World War II where Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches in France to begin the process of liberating continental Europe from Nazi occupation, which led to the end of the war in 1945. Nearly 150,000 troops participated in the D-Day invasion and 14,000 of them were Canadians. On D-Day itself, 359 Canadians were killed, and more than 5,000 had died by the time the Battle of Normandy ended.
Of course, the poppy has become a symbol of remembrance in Canada and other countries because of the legacy of the poem In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. In 1915 during World War I, the Guelph, Ontario-born physician was serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as Canada’s army was then known in Belgium at Flanders, during the Second Battle of Ypres. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, McCrae was inspired to write the poem after witnessing heavy fighting and many deaths, including that of a close friend whose grave was marked only by a small wooden cross in a field where wild poppies were growing.
A Remembrance Day ceremony will be held among the poppies made by the Cercle des fermières this Sunday, November 10 in Chute-à-Blondeau. It begins at 10 a.m. outside St-Joachim church on Front Road and will precede the 11 a.m. mass.