British Columbia

500,000 red tulips bloom in B.C. marking 75 years since Canadian-led liberation of Netherlands

The "timing has been impeccable" as tulips bloomed just before the Netherlands marks Liberation Day, says the son of a survivor.

'Timing has been impeccable' as tulips bloom around Liberation Day, says son of survivor

‘Canadian Liberator’ tulips planted in honour of the Canadian citizens who contributed to the liberation of Europe in 1945 bloom at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

More than 500,000 bright red tulips are bursting across the Lower Mainland to mark the 75th anniversary of the Canadian-led liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War.

"I would say Metro Vancouver probably took care of half a million tulips," said Carl Van Noort, the son of war survivors and a flower bulb wholesaler.

The bulbs were chosen and planted last fall to commemorate the heroic acts of Canadian soldiers, he said. Now, fiery red Liberator and Strong Love tulips can be seen along Highway 1 in Langley, in Abbotsford, and Vancouver's Mountain View Cemetery.

City gardeners planted the tulips in the shape of a massive poppy in Vancouver's Victory Square. (James Mulleder/CBC)

At Victory Square, city gardeners have planted the tulips in the shape of a large poppy.

Van Noort helped bring many of the Dutch tulip bulbs to Canada for the nation-wide initiative.

He says timing for the blossoming of the blooms has been "impeccable" as it fell right around May 5 for Liberation Day in the Netherlands.

While COVID-19 has scrubbed many of the planned commemorative ceremonies locally and internationally, he's hoping the flowers will serve as a reminder that more than 7,600 Canadians were killed in the fighting.

"For us as a first generation, we are very aware," he said.

Born in the Netherlands, Van Noort says he grew up listening to stories from his parents of the hardships they endured.

Signs are placed among many of the flower beds to raise awareness about the purpose of the tulips, to honour the contribution of the many who contributed to the European Liberation. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Last year, he says he brought his son to Holland to visit Canadian war cemeteries hoping to pass on the lessons.

"The sacrifices that were made by Canadians — the 23-year olds and the 22-year olds that are buried in these cemeteries in the Netherlands — to tell them that story."

He also hopes it serves as a reminder that despite the challenges we face in the pandemic, much like the dark moments in the past, we can fight through.

"It's hope and I love to see that represented in a red tulip that's blooming out there."

Organizers of the tulip campaign say the timing of the blooms were 'impeccable' as they blossomed right around Liberation Day on May 5. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

With files from Dan Burritt

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