The Canadian Tulip Festival is celebrating its 70th anniversary! Here are some interesting facts About The Annual Tulip Festival in Canada!
The earliest tulips were not given as a gift by royalty.
The first tulip bulbs gifted to Ottawa came from an English businessman, not Dutch royalty. Between 1941 and 1943, Richard Seymour Cobley, who owned enormous commercial flower fields in England and Scotland, presented 83,000 tulips to Canada in recognition for Canadian support of the Netherlands during the war.
The tulip is the city of Ottawa’s official flower – Facts about Tulip Festival in Canada
The tulip was designated as the official flower of the City of Ottawa in 2001. However, not all of the gardens of the Canadian Tulip Festival are in Ottawa. “Malak’s Bed” can be found near the Museum of History in Gatineau. This flower bed, with the Ottawa River and Parliament buildings in the background, is reminiscent of one of Malak’s most famous photographs, which was featured on a Canada Post stamp. Another tulip garden can be seen in Gatineau’s Montcalm-Taché Park.
Every year, over a million tulips blossom.
Every year, the Netherlands sends 20,000 tulip bulbs to Canada. The Dutch Royal Family has donated 10,000 bulbs, while the Dutch Bulb Growers Association has donated 10,000 bulbs on behalf of the Dutch people. Every year, the Canadian government purchases bulbs from Canadian and Dutch distributors to supplement those that are donated. The “used” bulbs are donated to non-profit organizations and schools, composted, or left in the ground for a second season in a few circumstances. During the celebration, over a million tulips blossom.
You are free to enjoy the tulips…and dessert – Facts about Tulip Festival in Canada
Grant and Pam Hooker are the Festival’s current “Directors Emeritis.” These civic leaders are well-known for inventing another Ottawa icon, the BeaverTails pastry. This rectangular, deep-fried dough is commonly served slathered in cinnamon and sugar and can be found across Ottawa, notably near the main Tulip Festival sites.
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It represents the friendship between Canada and the Netherlands.
The largest group of beds, located in Commissioner’s Park near Dow’s Lake, contains almost 300,000 blooms. Visitors who can look away from the flowers will discover a one-of-a-kind statue of a guy lifting his arms, a hat in each hand. The Man With Two Hats has a twin, and the second statue may be found in Apeldoorn. The installation, created by Dutch artist Henk Visch, commemorates the relationship between Canada and the Netherlands while also reflecting on the cost of war. Princess Margriet unveiled the Ottawa statue in 2002, two years after attending the Apeldoorn ceremony.
The Netherlands’ tulips are planted in dedicated gardens.
Every year, the Netherlands’ tulips are planted in two distinct flower beds. One is on the Civic Campus of Ottawa Hospital, where Princess Margriet was born. Princess Juliana, in fact, requested the spot when she sent her first bulbs. The Queen Juliana Gift Bed can also be found at Commissioner’s Park.
Tulips are also available at the church – Facts about Tulip Festival in Canada
A third tulip bed, concealed in plain sight, houses bulbs donated by the Netherlands. Every year, the Dutch Embassy sends St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church 100 bulbs, which are sometimes delivered by the ambassador or visiting Dutch students. Princess Margriet was christened on June 29, 1943, in St. Andrew’s, and the parish commemorates this particular link every year.
A photographer came up with the idea.
Malak Karsh, a well-known photographer, founded the Canadian Tulip Festival. Malak captured tulips donated by Princess Juliana blooming on Parliament Hill in 1949. In 1952, he proposed the concept of a tulip festival to the Ottawa Board of Trade, and it grew from there—in more ways than one! Malak later served as the Canadian Tulip Festival’s honorary president until his death in 2001.
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The Dutch ambassador has been invited to attend the festival.
“To this day, the Dutch ambassador is invited to come to worship with us on a Sunday in May (around Dutch Liberation Day) most years, to read the scripture lesson and meet the congregation,” recalls Elizabeth Phillipson, an Elder of St. Andrew’s and volunteer archivist (which swells that Sunday quite a bit with many from the Dutch community in Ottawa). Even now, we keep that relationship dear to our hearts.
The Dutch royal family maintains close ties with Canada – Facts about Tulip Festival in Canada
The link between Princess Margriet and Ottawa remains strong. She has visited the city multiple times, most recently in 2002 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tulip Festival. In the spring of 2015, a new sculpture was unveiled to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Netherlands’ freedom. This piece by Canadian artist Laura Brown-Breetvelt, titled Princess Tulip Sculpture, represents Princess Margriet as a newborn, carried by her mother and surrounded by tulips.