Every year the Netherlands sends thousands of tulips to Canada in appreciation of Canada’s liberation of the country in World War II and for providing a safe haven for the Dutch royal family which lived in Canada during the war. There is an annual tulip festival in the nation’s capital Ottawa when the flowers bloom in the month of May.
This year the festival kicks off on Friday, May 10th and that will herald a special planting campaign which will be part of celebrations in 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation.
More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers, airmen and sailors died chasing the Nazis out of Holland from September 1944 to April 1945. The gratitude was immeasurable among the Dutch who were sick and starving.
The First Canadian Army played a major role in the liberation of the Dutch and also in opening Belgium and the Netherlands’ Scheldt estuary which was a gateway to the port of Antwerp. Access to the port opened supply lines which were crucial to the Allied armies as they pushed on toward Germany and the defeat of Adolf Hitler’s army.
The Dutch saw Canadian forces as their liberators and saviours and have been eternally grateful.