Anten Mills knitter takes on 'really important' poppy project

Joan Gannon has a passion for poppies.

She loves everything about the delicate little flower — how it looks, how it feels between her fingers, how it dances in a gentle breeze.

But it’s what the poppy symbolizes, especially at this time of year, that really touches her heart.

“Remembrance Day has always been important to our family,” Gannon said during an interview with BarrieToday at the Anten Mills home she shares with her husband, Dennis.

Both of their fathers served in the Second World War.

Joan’s dad was in the signal corps and Dennis’s was in the provost corps.

Joan’s father suffered an injury and was shipped home before the fighting ended, while Dennis’s father made it home after the war finished.

To honour them and the thousands of others who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, Joan has been knitting poppies for a display that will be installed at the Springwater Park cenotaph early on Saturday morning, ahead of the Remembrance Day ceremonies at 10:30 a.m.

The display will be at the cenotaph for three days.

Joan said she was inspired to do the project a few years ago when she discovered the Cambridge Poppy Project, a community art project in the southern Ontario municipality that transforms the cityscape, turning various landmarks into Remembrance Day icons.

In 2021, the Cambridge Poppy Project turned more than 33,000 knit and crocheted poppies into public art installations throughout the city.

Joan thought her poppy project would be a perfect addition to a local ceremony, but she didn’t know who to contact.

She reached out to Springwater Township Coun. Brad Thompson.

“Joan approached me and showed me the pictures of the poppies and she asked me for some help,” Thompson said. “I did a little bit of research and called the local legion and they connected me with the guy who runs the Springwater ceremonies and they said no problem.”

Thompson attended the Springwater Park Remembrance Day ceremony last year — his first at that location, on Highway 26 — and found it to be a moving and respectful service.

“Hopefully our children and grandchildren can learn the importance of Remembrance Day,” he said. “I think it’s really important that we don’t lose the meaning.”

This year, Joan says the meaning of the day is amplified due to what’s happening overseas, in Israel, in Ukraine and other wartorn countries.

“I think because of the situation we’re in right now, it’s bringing to light a lot more of what happened many years ago,” she said. “I think it’s showing us that we are very fortunate that we live in the country we live in and we should appreciate what we have.

“And we should never forget any of the people who lost their lives so we could have what we have today.”

Joan is always looking for new people who want to contribute to this project. If you have a passion for knitting or crocheting, or want to learn, contact her at

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,