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Oct. 17, 2021 | Sunday
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NOTL Museum volunteers knit and crochet 2,000 poppies for art installation
From left, Judy Thornton, Terry Mactaggart, Dee Steele and Nancy Macri work to fasten the handmade poppies to bird netting with zip ties. (Jessica Maxwell)

A group of Niagara-on-the-Lake volunteers known as “The Poppy Brigade” are working to create an art installation that will feature more than 2,000 knit and crocheted poppies.

The NOTL Museum was looking for a special way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance and found inspiration from a nationwide "Poppy Project” featuring exterior poppy displays on museums across Canada.

The large art piece will be displayed outside the NOTL Museum from Nov. 1 to 12, and visitors are encouraged to come and visit the display created by members of the community.

“Every Wednesday morning, we have a workshop here. Everyone gets together to knit and crochet together,” said museum office manager Barbara Worthy.

“The Poppy Brigade” includes more than 20 volunteers who have come together to design, collaborate and create the tribute in honour of Remembrance Day and the poppy.

“Everyone’s committed to making the design themselves,” Worthy said.

“We all stood outside and looked up at the building, looked at the grounds and everyone had their idea. So, it wasn’t just one person, it’s a real community.”

The design will feature the handmade poppies attached to bird netting and draped from the top of the bell tower at the museum down toward the flagpole. There will also be a poppy garden with poppies attached to bamboo sticks.

The name for the group of volunteers was very intentional, picked to give a sense of nostalgia and “feeling of a mission to accomplish and be proud of,” said Worthy.

The group of women gathering to put so much time into this tribute piece is reminiscent of what it must have been like in this community when they were knitting socks and they sent off those packages to the men fighting in the war, Worthy said.

“Socks were a big thing. We just don’t realize how important that was to those boys. What it must have felt like, how much love, how much care would have gone into it,” she said.

“It's just in honour of that and not to forget that we as a community can work together even if we're in the depths of a pandemic. We can still find things to work together to make ourselves feel like a community.”

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