Thursday, May 19, 2022

Of War

The origins of the Canadian Tulip Festival are examined in a series of signs around one side of a raised bed of tulips. It's one of the positive outcomes of war- the abiding friendship of two countries that came out of the Second World War.

When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands as part of their sweep across much of continental Europe, the civilian population suffered.

The Dutch royal family escaped to London, where Queen Wilhelmina remained to rally her people, work with Resistance movements, and become a general thorn in the side to the little corporal in Berlin. Her daughter, the crown princess Juliana, was sent to Canada with her own daughters, where she would live in Ottawa and do much on her own to keep the Dutch people in the minds of people in the New World.

Her husband would spend much of the war in England assisting his mother-in-law, but there were visits, and out of that came something unique: the birth of a royal in Ottawa. The Canadian government at the time passed a law temporarily deeming the maternity ward with an extraterritorial status, ensuring the royal status of the baby, and Juliana gave birth to another daughter, Margriet. 

The news of a new royal baby reached the occupied country, and Margriet would be baptized at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church here, with her father and grandmother in attendance, and a multitude of godparents. This panel includes two photographs by the Canadian portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh, who by then had already made a name for himself on the world stage with his iconic photograph of Winston Churchill.

It was Canadian soldiers who liberated the Netherlands, and out of that time of the war came a deep friendship that has carried on to this day. Juliana and the royal family sent tulips to Canada as thanks. 

Princess Margriet has come back many times- in fact she was back a few days ago with her husband to open the festival.

Malak Karsh, the brother of the aforementioned Yousuf, made his own reputation as a famous landscape photographer, based out of Ottawa. More than anyone else, he can be credited as the founder of the Tulip Festival. It was he who made the suggestion of a formal festival to showcase the tulips.


  1. Interesting post on the history of the tulip festival. Take care, have a great day!

  2. Those are sweet memories and we are thankfull the Canadian government invited our Crownprinces Juliana and her children to have a safe place for her family. Glad you can still enjoy the tulips every year!

  3. The bond from the war is still close. In the first week of May, two Canadian war veterans were again in Friesland to attend the festivities surrounding the commemoration and liberation of the war.

  4. A beautiful tribute to lives lost.

  5. NEAT. I only knew some of that history.

  6. @italiafinlandia: you're welcome.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Eileen: thanks.

    @Tom: yes it is.

    @Marianne: it is a good legacy.

    @Jan: that is not surprising.

    @Gemel: I think so.

    @Anvilcloud: I'm familiar with a lot of it.

  7. I didn’t know about Malay Karsh. Thank you, William.

  8. History I didn't know about. Thanks for enlightening me.

  9. It is wonderful that they have all those signs to explain the background of the tulip festival.

  10. Wonderful historical post and photos regarding the Tulip Festival of Ottawa ~

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  11. This is really fascinating history. I remember from when I was really small that my mother talked about how brave the "Dutch" Queen was and looking at her pictures and the princesses in Life Magazine. I hadn't realized the special and close ties with Canada -- that's wonderful to learn. Also about the photographer (both brothers).

  12. @Marie: the Karsh brothers left a big legacy here.

    @DJan: you're welcome.

    @Magiceye: very much so.

    @RedPat: I think so too.

    @Carol: thank you.

    @Sallie: it's a wonderful story.

  13. The Dutch /Canadian relationship has been fantastic. We have many Dutch residents here. Quite often the topic of conversation is about the liberation of Holland.

  14. Muy buena información, que hasta ahora desconocía.

  15. Thank you for the wonderful story of the tulips. They are even more beautiful now.

  16. The Tulip Festival has become an enduring symbol of Canadian/Dutch friendship.

  17. Thanks for including this history.

  18. William - a wonderful example of how countries can be partners rather than adversaries!

  19. @Red: not a surprise.

    @Cloudia: thank you.

    @Ventana: thanks.

    @Anonymous: you're welcome.

    @David: very much so.

    @Joanne: a pleasure doing so.

    @Angie: that is true.

  20. Thanks very interesting and the tulips are incredible!

  21. Enjoyed reading the background about how tulips became so prevalent in Canada and surely a lasting and colorful gesture of gratitude for years to come.