A National Symbol of Peace and Friendship




The three million tulips that bloom in Ottawa each spring are a symbol of the friendship between Canada and the Netherlands, a friendship that began in war and has continued in peace.
When the Netherlands was invaded in 1940, Crown Princess Juliana –– later Queen Juliana –– escaped with her family to Ottawa.  In January of 1943, Crown Princess Juliana gave birth to a daughter, Princess Margriet, at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.  In order for the princess to born a Dutch citizen, Canadian Parliament proclaimed her birthing suite at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, Dutch territory.  Upon news of the birth of the princess, the Dutch flag flew from the Peace Tower (the only time in history that a foreign flag has flown from the Peace Tower) and the carillon on Parliament Hill rang out the Dutch national anthem.
After the Dutch Royal Family returned home in 1945, the people of the Netherlands sent a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada’s Capital in appreciation not only for the refuge that Canadians provided to the Royal Family, but also for Canada’s military role in the liberation of the Netherlands.
(These 100,000 tulips became the genesis of the Canadian Tulip Festival held in Ottawa each spring.)
Princess Juliana was so pleased by the prominence given to the tulips in the Nation’s Capital that she sent a gift of 20,000 bulbs, asking that a portion of them be planted at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. 
Every year since then, Ottawa has received an annual gift of 20,000 tulip bulbs, half from the Dutch Royal Family, as a lifetime bequest of Queen Juliana, and half from the International Flower Bulb Centre of Holland on behalf of the growers and exporters of flower bulbs.  And, every year, 3,000 of these bulbs are planted at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
Sadly Queen Juliana died in March 2004.  In August of that year, Ottawa received notification that Queen Beatrix “will be pleased to continue the legacy started by my mother”.  So, happily for the people of Canada, the gift of friendship continues.
Millions of tulips, in over 70 varieties are planted in Ottawa each year, most of them blooming in mid-May.  There are more tulips blooming in Ottawa each spring than in any other capital city in the world, including Den Hague. 
The Ottawa flower beds in which the tulips are planted have evolved slowly over the years into exciting carpets of colour that now speak vividly of spring, peace and international friendship to everyone who sees them.


  photo´s left:  by Malak Karsh