Tulips, history and photography come together
This May I was thrilled to be able to photograph dogs and also horses in the tulip fields at TASC tulip farm in Fenwick. As Canadians we have a a fascinating history with the Netherlands. If you don’t know the story of why tulips are a such big deal in Canada (and also how my dad fits in to the picture) please read on!
Following the Nazi Invasion of the Netherlands in the second world war, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands took refuge in Ottawa with her two young daughters, Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene.
While in exile, Princess Juliana gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet. In order that the new princess could hold Dutch nationality exclusively, a section of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was declared Dutch soil. Ottawa also helped to celebrate the princess’ birth by flying the Dutch flag at the top of the iconic Peace Tower. Ottawa ultimately played home and safe haven to the Dutch royal family until the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.
When she returned to the Netherlands, Princess Juliana wanted to express her gratitute to Ottawa and the Canadian people. Among several gifts – the royals sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa. Since that time, the Dutch royal family has sent tulip bulbs to our capital every year – the gift is known as the “Tulip Legacy”.
The black and white photo below was taken on May 6, 1945, in the town of Amersfoort, a day before the war ended. Skip forward to the 50th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe), in 1995. The photo appeared on the front page of an Amsterdam newspaper. Dad had never seen the photo before, but a war buddy of his mailed a copy of it to him.
That’s my dad (she says, bursting with pride), Captain John Black of the Ontario Regiment, leaning over the “Scout Car” to offer the little Dutch girls candy. With him were his driver, and an “Oranjes”, a Dutch freedom fighter (bottom right).
So in a way, this is my delayed celebration of VE Day. I wanted to share this story with you along with a photo of lovely Dutch equestrienne Roos Dystra and her stunning throroughbred gelding, Quartz, among the tulips!
Hope you enjoyed discovering this “colourful” piece of Canadian history!