Monday, April 28, 2014

Tulilps come to Canada

Tulips. Gorgeous, another sign of spring. But how did these Dutch blooms come to make a home in Canada? That is an interesting story, which dates back to World War II. 

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands, the Dutch Royal family sought refuge in England. Unfortunately, due to the aerial bombings, that country wasn't much safer. Queen Wilhelmina decided to send her daughter and heir, Princess Juliana, along with her two children to Canada. This way, if something should happen to the Queen like she died or was kidnapped, her heir would be safe. In late 1940, under the utmost secrecy, Princess Juliana and her children travelled to Wales then boarded a Dutch ship for Canada.

The Dutch royalty settled in Ottawa - the nation's capital - in a home in Stornoway. The Dutch royalty were much like war time families of the time. The young girls attended public school and Princess Juliana volunteered for the war effort. In addition, the Princess was also her mother's official representative and therefore made frequent visits to troops in Canada, the United States and the Dutch Caribbean. 
In 1943, Princess Juliana would give birth to the only royal child born in Canada. If the child was a boy, he would inherit the Dutch throne but there was a problem. In order to inherit the throne, the child had to be born on Dutch soil. Obviously, it was too dangerous for the pregnant princess to travel to her home country. To get around this, when the princess went to a local hospital to give birth, Canadian officials ceded the room to the Netherlands so technically the child was born on Dutch soil. Rumour has it that someone put soil from the Netherlands under the bed so the child really was born on Dutch soil. Princess Margriet was born and became fourth in line to inherit the throne. A few months later, Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernd (Princess Juliana's husband) made the dangerous journey to Canada for Princess Margriet's baptism. It was a big international event with Queen Mary of England and President Roosevelt of the United States becoming the godparents of the young princess.

During the occupation of the Netherlands, hundreds of thousands of Dutch people were imprisoned, abused or murdered. The birth of the new princess was a big boost to the Dutch people. Her name, Margriet (Daisy) became a symbol of resilience and strength for the Dutch people. It didn't take long for the Canadian troops to push north over the Rhein to the Netherlands. The Canadians had orders to liberate the Dutch and that is what they did. As well, they helped to rebuild the country.

Two days after Hitler's suicide, the Dutch royal family returned home. Princess Juliana inherited the throne, becoming Queen.
The people of the Netherlands were grateful for everything Canada did for the Dutch during the war so in 1946, 100,000 tulip bulbs were sent to Canada. Princess Juliana sent over another 20,000. Every year thereafter, she donated 10,000 bulbs.

In 1951, Ottawa held its first Tulip festival. Since then it has grown to a three week international event featuring over 1 million bulbs, including those originally donated by Princess Juliana and the Dutch people. 

In 2004, Queen Juliana passed away at the age of 94. If you go to Commissioner's Park in Ottawa, you will find a special flower bed filled with beautiful tulips and a plague erected in the Queen's memory. A fitting tribute to the woman and the special relationship between the Netherlands and Canada.

According to Wikipedia, to this day, the Netherlands continues to send 20,000 tulip bulbs a year to Canada - 10,000 from the Royal family and 10,000 from the Dutch Bulb Grower's Association.

The information for this entry came from

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. What a splendid tribute the Dutch gave the Canadian. Tulips are beautiful in the spring.

    1. I agree Lee. And to think that after all these years, it is still going on.

  2. I think that is the most amazing thing is that it is still going on.

  3. I source this from Wikipedia "The maternity ward of Ottawa Civic Hospital in which Princess Margriet was born was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government. Making the maternity ward outside of the Canadian domain caused it to be unaffiliated with any jurisdiction and technically international territory. This was done to ensure that the newborn would derive her citizenship from her mother only, thus making her solely Dutch, which could have been very important if the child had been male, and as such, the heir of Princess Juliana. It is a common misconception that the Canadian government declared the maternity ward to be Dutch territory. Since Dutch nationality law is based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis it was not necessary to make the ward Dutch territory for the Princess to become a Dutch citizen. Since Canada followed the rule of jus soli, it was necessary for Canada to disclaim the territory temporarily so that the child would not become a Canadian citizen.