By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I'm really sorry we missed the Canada Blooms event that was in Toronto recently. I've kind of hinted to my wife that we could still see some gardens with beautiful spring flowers. She thinks I'll just take her somewhere nearby. Now I know Ottawa has its tulip festival every spring. If possible, could you provide me with the dates? I'd like to take her to see this as we have never seen them before.

A: The Ottawa Canadian Tulip Festival will be in its full glory from May 6 through May 24, 2004. Immersed in history that dates back to WWII when the Dutch Royal Family was forced to flee the Netherlands, Canada embraced and watched over Princess Juliana, the heir to the Dutch throne, and her family.

It was on a cold day in January 1943 in a private maternity room of the Ottawa Civic Hospital where the Dutch Princess gave birth to a little girl, Princess Margriet Francisca. Throughout the Netherlands, it has been said that the underground newspapers ran headlines, "A princess is born!" giving new hope during the war. As a token of gratitude after the war ended, the Dutch presented a million tulip bulbs which have been a lasting legacy of the friendship between the two countries ever since.

Every spring the tulips blossom, making the rainbow of florals one of the prettiest times to visit Ottawa. In 2004, the 15 km WestJet Tulip Route, which runs throughout the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau will feature four official festival sites, 12 attraction sites and two partner sites. For full details on the festival visit or call them at toll-free 1 800 66-TULIP. If you would like to learn more on accommodations and other attractions, you could log onto the Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority's web site,


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