Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrea (1872-1918) , born in Guelph, Ontario, was a Canadian poet, physician, author and soldier who wrote the famous war memorial poem "In Flanders Fields":
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
In Flanders Fields was first published in England's Punch magazine in December 1915. Within months, this poem came to symbolize the sacrifices of all who were fighting in the First World War. Today, the poem continues to be a part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada and other countries throughout the world.
On January 28, 1918, while still commanding No 3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne, France, McCrae died of pneumonia.
An excellent biography of John McCrae has been posted on the Guelph museum website.
McCrae's poem inspired the adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who died in war. In 1972, a second John McCrae-related slogan was used in Guelph:
2. John McCrae Stamp
On October 15, 1968, Canada Post Office issued a stamp honouring John McCrae.
H & E
S. & A.
International Surface Letter
Gabriela, B.C., to Goteburg, Sweden, October 22, 1966
10 cents UPU surface letter rate
On November 1, 1968, the UPU surface letter rate was increased to 12 cents
NATO Forces in Europe
CFPO Soest, Germany to Toronto, November 4, 1968
15 cents air mail letter rate to Canada
Printed Matter to the U.S.
On November 1, 1968, the printed matter rate to the U.S. increased from 3 cents to 5 cents.
Lethbridge to Port Orchard, Wahington, December 13, 1968
5 cents printed matter rate to the U.S.
This is a correct single usage of the McCrae stamp after November 1, 1968.