History came alive in Nanaimo Tuesday as the city celebrated a special garden that is blooming in full colour right now.
Passing by it, many don’t know the significance of Nanaimo’s Dutch-Canadian Friendship Tulip Garden. But one man who lived through the Nazi occupation of Holland and was there when Canadian troops liberated it, says the garden is a symbol of something all of us should be proud of.
In his 80’s now and living in Nanaimo , Adrian Hovestad’s face still beams with pride standing next to decorated Canadian soldiers.
“Very emotional. Yeah. Very emotional,” says the Nanaimo man.
Because it’s bringing back a little of what it felt like when Canadian troops liberated his Dutch town from the Nazis when he was just 11 years old.
“Oh it was unbelievable,” remembers the now Great-Grandfather.
Veterans who’ve been there say it’s like no time has passed at all.
“Oh they just love us there. They can’t do enough for you still today,” says Bill Bradshaw of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch 10.
What Canadians did for the Dutch Royal family too during World War II has forever cemented the friendship between our two countries. Taking in members of the Dutch Royal family to live here, during the war and even deeming the Ottawa hospital room where future Princess Margriet was born as international territory not Canadian, so she could be born a Dutch royal.
“It’s that Dutch Canadian connection. There’s no better connection than that,” says Hovestad.
And it’s growing new roots in Nanaimo. The city has named the flowering grounds around the downtown Cenotaph Nanaimo’s Friendship Tulip Garden, and it was planted by Nanaimo elementary students. The tulips a symbol, of the tulips sent to Ottawa after World War II, in a distinctly dutch thank-you for Canada’s hospitality.
Sharing a piece of history that for many like Adrian Hovestad ought never be forgot.
“It’s amazing. Yeah,” says Hovestad.