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Anyone who’s been to the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa knows that there’s no shortage of bright, beautiful colours. But this year, there will be one flower that overshadows them all.

On Monday, a red and white tulip created to honour Canada’s 150th birthday was unveiled at Commissioners Park. It was engineered to resemble the Canadian flag, and you can think of it as a personal “thank you” from the Netherlands.

“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,” said His Excellency Cees Kole, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in a news release.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with why the Netherlands is so grateful to Canada, we certainly have an interesting story for you. For one, Canadian soldiers liberated Holland in the Second World War, freeing the country from the grips of Nazi rule–so there’s that. But before any of that happened, when the Germans originally invaded the Netherlands, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard were forced to flee to Ottawa to escape the conflict. Juliana later gave birth to her daughter Margriet inside the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943, after Canada’s federal government declared the maternity ward extraterritorial so that the birth could still technically take place in The Netherlands.

Needless to say, they haven’t forgotten what we did for them.

Princess Margriet
Princess Margriet visits Ottawa in 2005. Credit: CP

In fact, the Tulip Festival in Ottawa is essentially an extension of that gratitude, as it was inspired by a gift of 100,000 tulips from Queen Wilhelmina after the war was over.

If you want to get your hands on your own Canada 150 tulip, they’ll be available at Home Hardware starting in September.

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