Tulip Time in Ottawa by Susan R. Hughes

Each May, tulips abound here in Ottawa. During the Canadian Tulip Festival, over a million bulbs bloom in more than a dozen varieties along the Tulip Route and at Commissioner’s Park beside Dow’s Lake and the Rideau Canal. It’s a stunning sight, but do you know the story behind the profusion of tulips in our capital city?

The festival traces its origins back to World War II. During the German occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch royal family took refuge in Canada. When Princess Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet in Ottawa in 1943, the maternity ward of the Civic Hospital (where I was born many years later) was declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government, so that the baby’s citizenship could be solely Dutch.

Two years later, Canadian forces led the liberation of the Netherlands from the Germans. Canadian troops brought desperately needed food supplies to the Dutch people, who had suffered terribly during the German occupation (this is how Canadian solider Adam and his Dutch bride Rianne met in my Music Box series). The Netherlands and Canada have had a special relationship ever since, and to this day Canadians are warmly welcomed when they visit there.

In appreciation, Princess Juliana presented 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa, to be planted on the grounds of the Civic Hospital. Juliana became Queen of the Netherlands in 1948, and continued to send thousands of bulbs to Canada each year until her abdication in 1980. In 1953, the Canadian Tulip Festival was created. The festival is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting over 500,000 visitors annually.

Is there a flower festival in your city or town?

If you’re crazy about spring flowers, sign up for our newsletter and see what’s blooming in our gardens this month.music box set-6-16

Curious to know more about Adam and Rianne? Check out my Music Box series.


About susanrhughes

Susan R. Hughes is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and historical romance. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and three children.
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15 Responses to Tulip Time in Ottawa by Susan R. Hughes

  1. I sure hope everyone picks up a copy of the music box series, it’s such a great set. Thanks for sharing a little Canadian history with us today, as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. leighmorgan1 says:

    What a lovely post, Susan! My daughter and I just saw a lovely display of tulips and other flowering bursts of color at Niagra-on-the-Lake in Ontario after a whirlwind visit to Toronto. Such a beautiful place to live! Your Music Box Series is like a warm hug. Hope your readers grow and grow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • susanrhughes says:

      I love Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s our most haunted city! One day I’m going to do the ghost tour and spend the night at the famous haunted inn.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. stephaniequeen says:

    Gorgeous picture and I can’t imagine how breathtaking in person! Thanks for sharing, Sue!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Carol says:

    Stunning, Susan. Tulips are so beautiful, and Ottawa is blessed with the many varieties.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. E. Ayers says:

    I believe you’ve posted several pics of the Rideau Canal and I’d love to see it! I had no idea that you had this wonderful tulip festival. My father’s family’s roots go back to Holland, making me Dutch along with everything else that married into his family. 🙂 But I’ve always identified with those Dutch roots. I love tulips.

    Okay I love almost anything that happens to be blooming! Really! How can you look at a flower and not be in love with it? I have to smile at dandelions and buttercups. They add such bright color to our lives! And tulips? OMG! They have this most amazing history. Hand me a history book and I’ll fall asleep, but hand me on one tulips or some other flower and I’m glued to it!

    Okay, I’ve added must come to Ottawa in May to my bucket list. Is there someplace around the canal where we can meet for a casual meal with the your whole family and the kids won’t drown? I can’t wait to see your adorable children.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mona Risk says:

    What a beautiful picture. I saw the fields of tulips in Holland years ago, amazing display.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love tulips. They do bloom in Louisiana, but you have to dig them up as they won’t bloom the next year, except for one kind. I think they are beautiful!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. susanrhughes says:

    The problem we have is keeping the squirrels from digging up the bulbs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Joan Reeves says:

    Loved it! Such beautiful photos.


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