In the fall of 2013 the congregation of Eastminster United Church, Belleville, ON decided that with the historic ties with the military over the years by many of their members’ families, they would expand the Remembrance Services in 2014 to be a Remembrance Weekend. The church parlour became the centrepiece of displays of letters, photos, uniforms and other memories. It was a very cathartic and heartfelt event. Then, a few days later, we saw on the television what the British had done with the 888,000+ ceramic poppies spilling out of the walls of the Tower of London and we knew we had to do something similar.
A friend and local potter, Perry Poupore, was contacted to analyze the opportunity with the church gardens (The Shorten Garden). He determined there was room for at least 300 (later revised to 400) ceramic poppies to be planted. Permission was sought from the Royal Canadian Legion, as they control the copyright of poppies in Canada (Act of Parliament, 1948). It was granted and in April 2015 orders began to be taken. To date we have received 250+ orders for Eastminster United and another 90 for the Military Communications & Electronics Museum at the Military Base, CFB Kingston.
Here is how the program works:
- A poppy costs $30.00 of which $3.00 is donated to the Belleville Poppy Fund
- The sponsor(s) dedicates the poppy(ies) in memory of (usually) someone who has served or is serving and their rank and regiment, etc. is printed in the program that accompanies each service
- We have had dedication services and a “planting” at 5 occasions (April 2016 and 2017 (2) to commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge) and Remembrance Days 2015 and 2016
- The poppies remain in the Shorten Garden (under security at night) for approximately a week
- Folks then collect their individual poppies, take home for storage in the winter, plant in their home gardens for the spring/summer and return to Eastminster United for the service in November
The next “planting” and dedication service will be Saturday, November 4th at 11:00 a.m. Please arrive by 10:45 a.m. After the brief service (20 mins) we will retire to the church parlour for some hot coffee, a ½ hour historical talk by renowned local author and historian, Orland French, and then a light lunch at noon.
For further information on the Eastminster United Church Poppy Project, call the church office at 613-969-5212 or Roli Tipper at 613-771-1119.