In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, the Canadian Tulip Festival will open its 68th edition on-line this Friday, May 8th.
The Festival, which has its “roots” in the Dutch liberation during the Second World War, is normally a major public spring event celebrated among 300,000 tulip blooms that are part of the tulip tradition in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario.
That city’s tulip tradition was initiated by Her Royal Highness Queen Wilhelmina as a gesture of gratitude for Canada’s harbouring of then Crown Princess Juliana and her family in Ottawa from 1940 until 1945. HRH Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa during that period. Within months following the May 5th, 1945 German surrender to Canadians in Wageningen, the Queen sent a “thank you” gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada’s Capital.
In the fall of 1945, those 100,000 bulbs were planted on the front lawn of Canada’s Parliament Buildings. When they bloomed the next spring, “The tulips brought a splash of colour into what was still a very grey post-war world,” according to Canadian Tulip Festival founder and renowned landscape photographer, Malak Karsh.
“People loved those flowers,” said Karsh. The Prime Minister, William Lyon MacKenzie King, loved them and the agency responsible for beautifying the capital, now the National Capital Commission, planted more and more tulips around the city each year. And more and more people came each spring to “see the tulips”.
In 1953, the local Chamber of Commerce founded the Canadian Tulip Festival to inform and facilitate the throngs of visitors that arrived in the city for tulips each May.
Due to the current global health situation, the organizers of this year’s 68th edition of the Canadian Tulip Festival moved the event “on-line”. People are being invited to attend from May 8th – 18th at www.tulipfestival.ca. What they see there will have a very Dutch flavour and will be a fitting addition to the celebration of 75 years of freedom in the Netherlands.
On-line programming of Dutch interest will include:
- “Songs of Liberation – 1945”, a series of 11 presentations assembled and hosted by Dr. Frank Mehring of Raboud University in Nijmegen
- “TulipToons”, a set of 11 original cartoons created by the Festival with most of them based on Dutch fairy tales
- “Project 44 : The Road to Liberation”, a visual military history of Canada’s 1944 -1945 liberation efforts
- “Towns of Liberation75”– an exploration of 6 Dutch towns and villages liberated by Canadian-led forces
- “Music & Tulips” 11 part series that features the Utrecht String Quartet and ties all performances to the Second World War era.
“A meaningful advantage of bringing our festival on-line this year,” states event President Grant Hooker, “is that we can share our celebration of the Canadian victory of May 5th, 1945 with Canada’s friends in the Netherlands. We hope there will be a Dutch audience for our presentation and we’d love to hear from them at firstname.lastname@example.org.”