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Fort Macleod tulip garden marks Dutch-Canadian friendship

Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter waters some of the tulips planted last fall in the Fort Macleod Town Square.

Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter waters some of the tulips planted last fall in the Fort Macleod Town Square.

Volunteers last fall planted tulip bulbs in a 70th anniversary Dutch-Canadian friendship tulip garden.

Volunteers last fall planted tulip bulbs in a 70th anniversary Dutch-Canadian friendship tulip garden.

Lieut. Werner Dressler of the 2309 Fort Macleod Army Cadets holds the Dutch flag as the piper plays.

Lieut. Werner Dressler of the 2309 Fort Macleod Army Cadets holds the Dutch flag as the piper plays.

As a lone piper played in the background Wednesday, Fort Macleod Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter sprinkled water on a garden that symbolizes a link between Canada and Holland.
The Town of Fort Macleod last fall was one of 140 recipients of bulbs for a 70th anniversary Dutch-Canadian friendship tulip garden.
“This is a special occasion for our community,” Feyter told the small group of people gathered in the Town Square on Second Avenue near the post office.
The Canadian Garden Council received more than 400 applications for tulips from communities across the country.
The 140 tulip gardens celebrate the first Dutch gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs sent to Canadians in 1945 as a symbol of appreciation for the role Canadian soldiers played in the liberation of the Netherlands and the hospitality Canada provided to the Dutch royal family in Ottawa during the Second World War.
“It’s an amazing story, how Canada hosted part of the royal family in the face of trials and difficulties,” Feyter said.
Veterans, school children and members of the public planted 700 tulip bulbs in November in the Town Square.
The story of the Dutch princess born in Ottawa during World War Two and the enduring friendship bond between Canada and the Netherlands will be retold.
In May of 1940, following the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family left to rule in exile from the United Kingdom.
The following month, Princess Juliana brought daughters Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene to Canada, arriving by ship in Halifax before proceeding to Ottawa, where mother and children were housed at Stornoway — now the official residence of the Leader of the Official Opposition.
On Jan. 19, 1943, while in Canada, Princess Juliana gave birth to daughter Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which was temporarily declared extraterritorial by the Government of Canada, to ensure the princess would hold exclusively Dutch, rather than dual nationality so her status in the line of succession for the Dutch throne would remain intact.
Princess Margriet remains the only royal personage ever to be born within North America.
At the news of the princess’s birth, the Dutch flag was flown atop the Peace Tower and Dutch music rang out from its carillon. Overseas, the princess’s birth was seen by the Dutch as an important symbol of hope and source of inspiration.
On May 2, 1945, following five years in exile in Canada, Princess Juliana and her children were reunited with Queen Wilhelmina in the liberated part of the Netherlands.
As a show of gratitude for her stay in Canada, and for Canadian soldiers’ role in the liberation of her homeland, Princess Juliana presented to the people of Canada a number of gifts, including 100,000 tulip bulbs.
The following year, an additional 20,500 bulbs were received in Canada, with a request to plant them on the grounds of the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
Juliana, who became queen of the Netherlands in 1948, continued to send a gift of thousands of tulip bulbs to Canada each year during her reign, which ended with her abdication in April 1980 and the beginning of the reign of Queen Beatrix.
“The reason the celebration still continues is it’s a reflection on what it took for one country to help another country,” Feyter said. “I think it speaks loudly when people work together and help each other through the difficult times.”
“This is an ongoing symbol of that.”
The Fort Macleod tulip garden will be featured in the 2016 edition of Canada’s Garden Route at www.canadasgardenroute.ca.
“We’re proud of the many Dutch residents who live in and about our area,” Feyter said.

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