Where the Poppies Grow premiere
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO - October 30, 2018 (LSN) When the Great War ended In November 1918 Canadians could take pride in the contributions their country had made. Canada sent over 600,000 soldiers and several thousand nurses, doctors and other people who supported the war effort behind the lines. Canada established 16 general hospitals in Europe, mainly in England, and a number of other hospitals and aid stations closer to the battlefield. Over 60,000 Canadian men and women died, from a country with a population of only 8 million. The country had paid a heavy price for victory in Europe.
Across the country communities supported the war and the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, (now Thunder Bay) were no different. At the Lakehead, with a population of approximately 30,000, over 6,200 people enlisted either as volunteers or as conscripts. Money was raised to assist soldiers’ wives, children, and other dependents. There were also campaigns to help finance the purchase of military equipment and to send personal items to the soldiers overseas. The government encouraged people to reduce the consumption of commodities like coal and wheat, and to produce more food in home gardens in order to divert resources to the troops in Europe. By the end of the conflict, approximately 300 people from the Lakehead were killed overseas or died of illness due to their war service. Thousands more returned home wounded in body and mind.
Where the Poppies Grow is a docu-drama that looks at the sacrifices made by people from the Lakehead to secure victory in the war. The film produced by Ron Harpelle and Kelly Saxberg to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War in 1918. The story is told through the experience of a soldier whose example illustrates the spirit and patriotism of Canadians. Alfred Saxberg was a first-generation Finnish-Canadian who enlisted at the beginning of the war in 1914 and survived, returning home in early 1919. His story is but one story of the war, but it is typical of the experiences of many thousands of Canadian soldiers and their loved ones at home. The film is driven by letters from Alfred to his family and to him from his sister Sadie who kept him informed about happenings on the Homefront. Where the Poppies Grow takes its name from John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields and it includes the story of the meeting in 1921 in Port Arthur, Ontario, where the poppies was designated an international symbol or remembrance. The film was shot on 16mm film in Thunder Bay, England and France, it relies on rare archival footage and photos, and it showcases some of the best talent in Northwestern Ontario.
Where the Poppies Grow will premiere on Sunday November 4. The afternoon will begin with a military on Memorial Avenue at 1:00 pm. This will be followed by a civic event at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium which will include World War One historical presentations, a performance by the Royal Canadian Airforce Band, and the premiere of Where the Poppies Grow.
100th Anniversary Parade Video by Erica Morsches Johnson