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John McCrae

Canadian Doctor and Soldier Wrote the Poem In Flanders Fields


Canadian Doctor and Poet John McCrae

Canadian Doctor and Poet John McCrae

Library and Archives Canada / C-046284

About John McCrae:

Best known for his poem In Flanders Fields which captured the tragedy of war, John McCrae was a complex man. From Scottish Presbyterian stock, John McCrae was a doctor who showed an early interest in the military and had a strong artistic side. He wrote In Flanders Fields in the trenches in 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres when a close friend was one of 6000 Canadian casualties in just 48 hours.


November 30, 1872 in Guelph, Ontario


January 28, 1918 in Boulogne, France


  • BA - University of Toronto 1894
  • Bachelor of Medicine - University of Toronto 1898
  • Interned at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland


John McCrae was a doctor, soldier, poet and artist.

Career of John McCrae:

  • John McCrae joined the Highland Cadet Corps at the age of 14 and the militia when he was 17.
  • He served in the South African War as an artillery subaltern from 1899 to 1900.
  • After graduating from medical school at the University of Toronto, John McCrae set up his own practice as a pathologist in 1905.
  • John McCrae was a respected professor of pathology and medicine at several Canadian universities and was a major contributor to Osler's Modern Medicine, a 10-volume textbook published in 1909
  • John McCrae enlisted as soon as Canada entered World War I in 1914. He was appointed brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. He held the rank of Major and was second-in-command.
  • He wrote In Flanders Fields during the second Battle of Ypres in 1915, and it was first published in Punch magazine the same year.
  • Later in 1915, John McCrae was transferred to No. 3 McGill Canadian General Hospital in Dannes-Cammiers, France as Chief of Medical Services. The hospital was moved to Boulogne in early 1916, and it treated the wounded from the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Passchendaele.
  • John McCrae suffered from severe asthma all his life, and in 1918 he developed pneumonia. After an illness of five days, he died.

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