A non-fiction, children's picture book written by Anne Renaud and illustrated by Ashley Spires, A Bloom Of Friendship: The Story Of The Canadian Tulip Festival tells the story of the history behind the world's largest tulip festival held every spring in Ottawa. It is thus far the only book about the Canadian Tulip Festival that I have been able to find. Therefore, we are extremely lucky that it is such a great book!
Let me start by saying that I am not a history expert and this is in large part a history book. It is perfect for children aged eight- to ten-years old, but it is also great for adults who want to learn a bit about the history of the relationship between Holland and Canada and the tulip festival. It is beautifully illustrated with pictures that have been painted and with both historical and modern day photographs, newspaper articles created to tell the story and lots of historical tidbits woven in and around the main text.
This page can serve as an introduction to the history of the Canadian Tulip Festival (which is sometimes incorrectly called the Ottawa Tulip Festival) as well as a review of this book. I am actually giving more of the history of the tulip festival than is normal in a book review because I think that this page will also be good for people who are looking for this background information who are planning to attend the festival. I would, however, encourage you to check out the book whether or not you have children. It is really very beautiful; I think the artwork would be lovely framed. It also tells a beautiful story ~~ the history of the Canadian and Dutch friendship.
This book was republished in 2014, hence the two images to the right. The top picture is the new cover. The second picture, the original cover from 2005. You can find A Bloom of Friendship: The Story of the Canadian Tulip Festival on Amazon by clicking right here. The more recent book is only available in paperback. If you want a hardcover copy, you will have to buy the original book.
The Canadian Tulip Festival and Barbara and Malak Karsh
A Bloom of Friendship opens with a letter from Malak Karsh's wife, Barbara Karsh who tells of their discovery of the thousands of tulips in Ottawa in 1946. The pictures that Mr. Karsh took that day have since travelled the world telling Princess Juliane's Canadian story. Eventually, in 1953, his interest in the tulips would cause him to be instrumental in the creation of the Canadian Tulip Festival.
The Second World War, The Dutch and The Canadians
A LONG-LASTING FRIENDSHIP IS FORMED OUT OF THE TOUGHEST OF TIMES...
On May 10, 1940, the Dutch people were awakened by the sounds of airplanes and the sight of hundreds of soldiers parachuting to the ground as Hitler invaded Holland. This was the beginning of a horrible five-year period for the Dutch people.
Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Royal Family Escape
Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Royal Family escaped to England but even England was not a safe place to be. The Queen's daughter, Crown Princess Juliana, nine-month old Irene and a two-year old Beatrix found a safe place to escape too and that was Canada. They arrived in Halifax via the dutch ship Sumatra in Halifax in June 11, 1940 and from their proceeded to the home they would live in, which was located in Ottawa.
Perhaps the most notable event while they lived in Canada, was the birth in the spring of 1942, of Princess Margriet Francisca who was born a Dutch citizen because Canada named the place of her birth extraterritorial -- meaning outside of Canadian territory.
At Home, The Dutch People Struggled
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, life was very tough and the Dutch struggled to survive under the Nazis. Living conditions were terrible; supplies scarce. Eventually over 100,000 Dutch Jews were sent to Nazi death camps.
The Battle of the Scheldt, The Battle of the Rhineland and Freedom
In support of the final phase of the war in Europe, the allies needed to get supplies to their advancing troups in Belgium and The First Canadian Army was tasked with clearing the banks of the Scheldt of Nazis so that supplies could arrive through the Scheldt Estuary. For two months, the Canadians fought the German army along the Scheldt. In the end, more than 6,000 Canadian soliders were killed or wounded but, thanks to their sacrifices, the port of Antwerp was opened successfully. These Canadian soldiers rested in December and January; many of them in the homes of the Dutch where they made friends that would be remembered forever.
Rhineland, however, was one of the places that remained in German control. On February 8, 1945, the First Canadian Army once again was tasked. This time with clearing a passage for allied troups. At the end of this campaign, more than 5,000 Canadians were dead or wounded but at becauase of their efforts, the Allies were able to defeat Hitler.
In March of the same year, the First Canadian Army freed the remaining parts of Holland and, when it was clear that the war was nearing an end, a truce was made allowing for the dropping of much needed food and supplies to the Dutch. This time it was the Royal Canadian Air Force 405 Squadron that helped out by dropping 12,000 tons of needed items.
The Gift of Tulips
Finally on May 8, 1945, the war in Europe was over. Princess Juliana's family returned home and discovered a people who were extremely thankful to the Canadians. In 1945, the Dutch Royal Family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada by way of thanks. Every year since then, they have sent 20,000 additional tulip bulbs. I am sure that I will remember this story whenever I see tulips in the future. Will you?
Buy A Bloom Of Friendship on Amazon
Amazon has both the newer paperback edition (shown on top) and the older hardcover edition available. If you are in the U.S., follow the large links below. Canadians can buy this book from Amazon.ca by clicking here.
I am especially interested in this story because I reside in Ottawa and am able to see the tulips every year. Have you ever visited the tulip festival? What did you think of it? Are you interested in the history behind the tulips and this book, A Bloom of Friendship?
Treasures By Brenda
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Anne Renaud's Official Site
FIND INFORMATION ON THE AUTHOR AND HER OTHER BOOKS
- Anne Renaud's Home Page
I am a life-long Quebecker, currently living in Montreal. I first came to Montreal to study translation at Concordia University. I liked the city so much that I decided to make my home here. I like writing both fiction and non-fiction books...
More About the Canadian Tulips
- The Canadian Tulip Festival
The Canadian Tulip Festival (sometimes called the Ottawa Tulip Festival) has become the world's largest tulip festival and takes place in May each year with more than three million tulips in bloom. It runs for three weeks every spring and this...