On the second day of Ottawa’s economic mission to the Netherlands, Mayor Jim Watson had the honour of meeting with Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet.
The Princess was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital (now known as The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus) in 1943, when the Dutch Royal Family took refuge in Ottawa during the Second World War. The Government of Canada temporarily declared a maternity suite at the Ottawa Civic Hospital to be extraterritorial jurisdiction, which meant the Princess could enjoy full Dutch citizenship and remain in the line of succession. In addition, the Dutch flag flew over Parliament’s Peace Tower in Ottawa on the day of Margriet’s birth; the only time in Canadian history a foreign flag has been accorded this honour. As the birthplace of the Princess and home of the Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa holds a special relationship with the Netherlands and the Royal Family.
Mayor Watson expressed his wish for the Princess to visit Ottawa in 2020, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. The Mayor also proposed renaming Fairmont Park, which is in proximity to the Ottawa Civic Hospital, after Princess Margriet, to commemorate her history in Ottawa. Later this fall, the park will feature a dedicated Liberation75 tulip garden, where the City will plant 1,945 tulips, marking the year of the Liberation. The Mayor will bring forward a motion to City Council for the proposal, supported by Ward Councillor Jeff Leiper, when he returns from the mission. The City will receive comments from the public for a 10-day period, starting on September 25.
“On behalf of the City of Ottawa, it would be an honour to welcome Princess Margriet back to her birthplace to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian forces. We hope to build on our 75 years of friendship with the people of the Netherlands by commemorating Ottawa’s special connection to the Dutch Royal Family.”
Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa
“The Canadian Tulip Festival is very pleased with the renaming of the park in honour of Princess Margriet and as a symbol of our longstanding friendship with the people of the Netherlands. We look forward to seeing this magnificent bed of Liberation75 tulips paint the park orange next spring, as we mark these events that unite our two countries.”
Grant Hooker, Chair, Canadian Tulip Festival
- In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and the Dutch Royal Family was evacuated to London, England.
- Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina sent her heir, Crown Princess Juliana, and the Princess’ two daughters to Canada. They spent five years in Ottawa and became a part of the community.
- In 1943, the Crown Princess gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet, at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
- Immediately following the War, Crown Princess Juliana presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs in gratitude for the hospitality provided by the city. In 1946, she sent an additional 20,000 tulip bulbs as a token of appreciation for Canada’s support and wartime efforts.
- To this day, the Netherlands continues to send a gift of tulips each year to Ottawa as a symbol of international friendship.
- The Canadian Tulip Festival was established in 1953 to celebrate the historic gift of tulips from the Dutch Royal Family. The Festival has commemorated this gift and its history each spring for the last 68 years.
- The Festival, which takes place in May of each year (May 8–18, 2020), commemorates the crucial role that the Canadian Armed Forces played in the Liberation of the Netherlands and Europe, as well as the birth of Princess Margriet in Ottawa—the only royal personage ever born in Canada.
- To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, the Canadian Tulip Festival - together with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the National Capital Commission - have launched the Liberation75 Tulip Campaign.
- The Campaign will result in the planting of 1.1 million Liberation75 Tulips across Canada in honour of the 1.1 million Canadians who served during the Second World War.