Lochlan Garnett, nine, and veteran Russ Hudson, second vice-president of the Branch 37 of the Royal Canadian Legion (Saanich Peninsula), prepare to plant Liberation Tulips in time for 75th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, 2020. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)

Lochlan Garnett, nine, and veteran Russ Hudson, second vice-president of the Branch 37 of the Royal Canadian Legion (Saanich Peninsula), prepare to plant Liberation Tulips in time for 75th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, 2020. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)

Friendship between Netherlands and Canada forged during war to bloom in Sidney

Planting of tulips in Sidney recognizes Canada’s wartime friendship with the Netherlands

If the poppy commemorates Canada’s fallen soldiers dating back to the First World War, Sidney is among many Canadian communities remembering the nation’s special friendship with the Netherlands forged during war by planting tulips, that country’s national flower.

With Remembrance Day less than three weeks away, children from Sidney Elementary School joined veterans, a First Nations representatives, local dignitaries including Coun. Chad Rintoul, and members of the Mary Winspear Centre to plant several rows of Liberation Tulips in preparation for the 75th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, 2020.

Kenny Podmore, a member of the executive of Branch 37 of the Royal Canadian Legion (Saanich Peninsula), said the project emerged out of a partnership between the Royal Canadian Legion and the Dutch Society of Canada and commemorates Canada’s contribution towards the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi Germany.

Podmore, who coordinated the event, said it was also a way to help children learn about Remembrance Day specifically and the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers.

RELATED: WATCH: Hundreds gather in Sidney streets for Remembrance Day ceremony

“Every year, hand on my heart, I can say that there are more people coming each year [to Remembrance Day], and the most gratifying part for me are the young people who attend,” he said. “It’s the young people who will have to keep these commemorations going when others have moved on to better places.”

He said later that it is important to talk to children about this part of Canada’s past. “It’s important that we talk to the children, and let them know why we have such a beautiful life in Canada,” he said. “If it weren’t for our fallen soldiers, men and women, we wouldn’t have the life that we have here in Canada.”

The Dutch certainly appreciate the Canadian contribution.

Large sections of the Netherlands, along with Norway, Denmark and smaller sections of other European countries, were among the last German-occupied territories when the Second World War reached its conclusion in May 1945.

Historians have noted that the war was especially grim for the Netherlands. Neutral during the First World War, the Dutch were among the first victims of German aggression during the Second World War and among the last to shed their German occupiers. Almost exactly five years passed between the German invasion of May 10, 1940 and the formal surrender of German troops in the Netherlands on May 5, 1945.

RELATED: Memories of an uncle and Remembrance Day

German revenge following a failed Allied attempt to liberate the Netherlands in September 1944 condemned the small country to the Hongerwinter of 1944-1945 that killed tens of thousands through starvation, and it was not until the pending military defeat of German forces, mainly at the hands of Canadian troops, that international aid agencies could supply the population with the necessities of life in late April, early May 1945.

While not a decisive front to the overall war, Canada’s contribution to the liberation of the Netherlands at an estimated cost of 7,600 soldiers (about 18 per cent of Canadian losses during the war) has forged a strong friendship between the two countries that has continued afterwards through political and familial ties. This friendship actually began in May 1940 when the Dutch Royal Family and government evacuated to Canada following the German invasion and Princess Margriet, the third daughter of then-Queen Juliana and German-born Prince Bernhard, was born in Ottawa on Jan. 19, 1943.

And in a way, the commemorative connection between the poppy as the symbol of Canadian remembrance and the tulip as a symbol of friendship and gratitude knows no bounds. While John McCrae composed his iconic poem In Flanders Fields with its poppy reference while on the frontlines of northwestern Belgium during the First World War, the Flanders region cited in the poem extends across three countries: France, Belgium and the Netherlands.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read