Niagara Woodmaker honours veterans with wooden lawn poppies for Remembrance Day. Photo Credit: Facebook/Kevin Farris
Another Remembrance Day is almost here. While communities across Canada are donating to the Royal Canadian Legion, as well as preparing for memorial services to honour our soldiers of past and present, a new tradition is gaining traction in Niagara.
Kevin Farris is a woodmaker who resides in the city of Port Colborne. Farris and his neighbours have applied their skills to create wooden lawn poppies that can be purchased by residents, with proceeds going to support local veterans and the Legion.
“It all started in a couple of different ways,” Farris shared in a recent sit-down with The Niagara Independent. “I’ve got relatives in the military, and retired from the military and I’m proud of the service they’ve given to our nation,” he continued. “And I started thinking about the Highway of Heroes that they run in Toronto, which I believe is a tremendous way of honouring those who have died in our service… but I wanted to figure out a special way that we could demonstrate support for those who were alive, as well.”
Farris has always been inspired by the rich heritage of poppies being purchased and worn in support of veterans during the lead up to Remembrance Day. “I researched, in particular, where the donations are sent… and how the proceeds go directly to the legion in support of our vets,” he explained. “So, I wanted to make a wooden poppy for my front lawn,” he added. “In the winter, a few neighbours and I decided it would be nice to do something once a week… so we started making poppies on Tuesdays, in my garage workshop, with the funds we made going to our legion branch.” “We’ve already made 200 poppies for this year, and we’re close to a hundred behind… we’re now working every day of the week, and we still can’t keep up with the demand!”
Looking ahead to next year, Farris says that operations could expand significantly. “Our wives and girlfriends have started helping us with the painting,” he said. “And we’re hoping to reach out to the high-schools, providing opportunities for students in woodworking and art classes to not only get their hours, but also to gain the experience of working on something like this,” he continued. “We’re seeing great response from the general public, the legions, and the veterans themselves.” “Everyone is loving the idea!”
When asked what he finds to be the most fulfilling part of the initiative, Farris had some key thoughts to share. “Being able to support our veterans in the community in this way… and hearing about all the creative ways people are using them in this pursuit,” he shared. “When we’re out and about, not just in Port Colborne, but in other municipalities in the area, we see the poppies on people’s lawns…. It’s really encouraging,” he added. “One person purchased a bunch of them, and said he was going to write the name of a specific soldier, in honorarium, on each one.” “It’s been truly amazing to see!”
Those interested back-ordering a wooden lawn poppy, or for general inquiries, are invited to email Kevin Farris: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Redekop completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Labour Studies at Brock University. He has previously served in municipal and federal politics. In his free time, Nick enjoys following sports, taking part in outdoor activities, and reading biographies. Nick resides in Niagara Falls