McCrae 150: Remembering Lt. Col. John McCrae on the 150th Anniversary of his Birth
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lt. Col. John McCrae. An esteemed doctor, soldier and poet, McCrae is remembered for his impactful military, medical, and artistic pursuits, and his wartime poem “In Flanders Fields,” which he wrote from the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, around 3 May 1915.
To celebrate the anniversary, Guelph Museums has coordinated a multi-dimensional commemoration of his legacy, including a feature exhibition at the Civic Museum, a local poppy planting campaign, a guided tour through Europe, two brand new theatre productions, and a McCrae 150 Symposium.
Join us as we reflect on McCrae’s enduring legacy by engaging with these initiatives. Use the hashtag #McCrae150 on social media when sharing your experiences!
Witnessing War, an exhibition featuring Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poems and drawings, offers an impression of McCrae’s inner solitude, demonstrating how, in the face of war, he turned to self-expression as a way to document the indescribable, to give shape to solemnity, and to find peace. This exhibition also considers responsive works by other artists who explore universal themes of human conflict in their art.
Poppy Planting Campaign
Lt. Col. John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields” catapulted the poppy as an international symbol of wartime sacrifice and remembrance. Guelph Museums has partnered with the City of Guelph’s Horticulture team to plant poppies in 150 different locations throughout Guelph. The City of Guelph will plant poppies in 25 different locations around the city, and 125 complimentary bundles of poppies have been distributed to community members to plant at home.
Spread the spirit of remembrance by posting photos of your blooms, or poppies you see in the community, on social media with the hashtag #McCrae150.
McCrae 150 Memorial Tour
Guelph Museums will lead a McCrae 150 Memorial Tour through Europe from August 19 to 29, tracing McCrae’s footsteps in Belgium and France, exploring the impacts of the First and Second World Wars on the ground in Europe and at home in Guelph, and contemporizing the McCrae narrative while reflecting on memorialization, remembrance, and untold stories.
McCrae in the Mirror
McCrae House Backyard Theatre returns July 21-30 with a new play by Mike Ford: McCrae in the Mirror – a flight of fancy inspired by the life and work of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Performances Thursday through Saturday at 7 pm; and Saturdays at 2 pm. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.
McCrae 150 Symposium
Save the date: Saturday, November 26, 10 am to 4 pm. The McCrae 150 Symposium is a day-long speakers series featuring reflections on the life and service of Lt.-Col. John McCrae, the reverberations of the Great War, and what we can learn from this history over a century later.
A visceral performance centered around the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Ridge probes difficult but necessary questions about how and why we grieve. The performance takes place Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 7 pm at the River Run Centre. Tickets are available through the River Run Centre’s website.