It is nearly Canada Day and my flags are up! They are drawing some curious glances from neighbours and the tourists who sail past my deck. Having lived abroad for the last 11 years, this time of year normally makes me rather homesick. Canada is pretty awesome and that’s a fact.
But the Netherlands is pretty awesome too and Canadians and Dutchies are friends. Do you know why? Well, it all started with the Second World War.
Canada and the Netherlands were closely linked during WWII. During the war, Canada sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters. In 1943, Princess Magriet was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital where the maternity ward was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian Government in order to maintain Magriet's Dutch citizenship. As a way of thanks, the Dutch Royal Family sent 100 000 tulip bulbs in 1945 to Ottawa. In 1946, Princess Juliana sent another 20 500 tulip bulbs with the request that a special display was to be created for the hospital and she promised to send another 10 000 more each year. Because of the generosity of the Dutch Royal Family, Ottawa became known for tulips and a Tulip Festival was eventually born. The Tulip Festival is held annually in May in Ottawa, Canada and it is the world’s largest tulip festival with over 1 million tulips!
You may have read my previous blog post about the Hunger Winter and the starvation that affected much of the still Nazi occupied Western Netherlands in 1944/45. The First Canadian Army helped to liberate the Netherlands and the 1st Canadian Corps was responsible for liberating the Western Netherlands. The area suffered terribly during the final winter of the war and the Canadian soldiers brought much needed food supplies and were seen as heroes and saviours. Over 7000 Canadian soldiers died in the nine month campaign to liberate the Netherlands. If you would like to read more on the role of Canada in the Netherlands in WWII, please visit the Veterans Affairs website.
July 1st is Canada Day and my red and white shirt is ready to go and the temporary tattoos and stickers are out. I may not be able to go downtown to a huge party with bands, performances and fireworks but I will still celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday. I even have a bag of dill pickle chips that was brought to me by a lovely Canadian guy who did a Cheese Market Tour which I am looking forward to breaking open!
Happy Canada Day!
Alkmaar Tours offers top rated Private and Small Group Tours of Alkmaar’s medieval centre and the famous Alkmaar Cheese Market! For more information on the different tours, please visit the Alkmaar Tours Website.