It has been 100 years ago since a young Ottawa soldier died instantly in the second battle of Ypres in northern Belgium, and a poem was penned in his honour.

That man was 22-year-old Lt. Alexis Helmer, one of thousands of young men killed during the First World War.

But his death had a major impact on a Canadian medical corps doctor, Lt.-Col. John McCrae.

The pair had met at McGill University in Montreal before the war when McCrae was a professor and Helmer was a student.

One day after Helmer's death, McCrae wrote the most iconic war poem in Canadian history: In Flanders Fields.

Listen below as the CBC's Laurie Fagan details Helmer's story 100 years later, and talks with high school students who researched Helmer and McCrae.

On Sunday, statues will be unveiled in Ottawa and in Guelph, Ont., McCrae's hometown, to honour the iconic poem.