Netherlands gifts N.L. tulips as part of celebrations for 75th anniversary of liberation

Newfoundland and Labrador has been gifted 750 tulip bulbs from the Netherlands in appreciation of the role Canadians played in ending World War II. 

Dutch Ambassador Henk van der Zwan was in St. John's Saturday afternoon to present the flowers to Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote as part of celebrations for the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Netherlands' liberation from Nazi occupation. 

"For us, having been liberated by the Canadians is very important and it goes deep to our hearts," said van der Zwan.

But Newfoundland and Labrador isn't the only province receiving tulips, which were created specifically for the anniversary.

"We are covering Canada with 1,100,000 tulip bulbs," said van der Zwan.

He said the flowers will be planted at Government House, blooming in time to mark the anniversary in May 2020.

Tulips a long standing tradition

When the Second World War ended in 1945, Princess Julianna of the Netherlands sent tulips to Canada thanking the government and the people for allowing her and her family to stay in Ottawa during the war. 

The princess gave birth to a baby girl while in Canada during the war, and the Canadian government declared the hospital's maternity suite extraterritorial the day she was born, in order to keep her Dutch citizenship and remain an heir to the throne.

Ottawa still hosts a tulip festival every year in May.

van der Zwan said he also has a personal connection with Canada's participation in ending World War II.

He said his mother was 13 years old when she was standing roadside, watching the Canadian forces walk down the street to liberate the people in her city.

"She told me that was the first ever [time] in her memory that she got chocolate and chewing gum, which was being distributed by the Canadian liberators at the time."

van der Zwan said he hears similar stories from people living in both the Netherlands and in Canada.

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