In addition to their beauty, tulips have borne a special meaning for Canadians ever since Princess Juliana of The Netherlands and her two daughters reached safety in Ottawa during the Second World War. In appreciation for that safe refuge and in recognition of the Canadian Army’s role in the liberation of Holland, the Dutch government in 1945 sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa, followed by thousands more over the years.
The most recent bestowal of Dutch tulip generosity is the red and white Canada 150 tulip, developed especially to honour Canada’s sesquicentennial. Thousands have been planted in Canadian gardens and will be flowering for the first time in the spring of 2017. It will add fresh colour and distinction to the more than one million tulips making up the Ottawa Tulip Festival in May, an annual event since 1953.
I had the pleasure of painting an early bloom of the Canada 150 tulip in a Canadian garden last spring. Paintings follow passions and one of my passions is tulips. I’ve painted them many times in their myriad of colours and shapes. There is no limit to their variety and beauty.
“The tulip represents gratitude and the long-standing friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. Blooming in the colours of Canada’s flag, Canada 150 tulips will bring both pride and joy to gardens and communities from coast to coast to coast.”
—His Excellency Cees Kole, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.