Dutch Territory in Ottawa

Civic Campus
Civic Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During World War II, when Holland was occupied by the Germans, Princess Juliana and her three children were evacuated to Ottawa.  The princess was due to give birth to another child, and since the baby would be in the direct line of succession to the throne of Holland, it was desirable that the birth should take place on Dutch territory.  Prime Minister Mackenzie King arranged to have a room in the Ottawa Civic Hospital ceded to  Holland, and the baby was born there.

It was not the first time that Holland had claimed territory in Canada.  In the seventeenth century the Dutch were as active as the British, French and Spanish in the establishment of colonies.  They had founded New York in 1626, calling it New Amsterdam, and invaded Newfoundland several times.  In 1674, Captain Aernoutsz, who was based in the West Indies, decided to capture Acadia, which then belonged to France.  He obtained the help of Captain John Rhoades of Boston, an experienced pilot, and organized an expedition which captured Governor Chambly and a number of small forts.  Aernoutsz then claimed the territory of Holland, and on October 27, 1676, the Dutch West India Company appointed one Cornelius Steenwijck as governor of the newly-acquired province.

Aernoutsz tried to enforce a blockade so that the ships of other nations could not trade in Acadia.  This annoyed the New Englanders who enjoyed a good trade there, and when some of their ships were seized by the Dutch, countermeasures were organized.  An armed fleet sailed from Boston and intercepted some of Rhoades’ ships in the Bay of Fundy.  There was a sea battle in which Rhoades was captured, and then taken to Boston where he was tried for treason and piracy.  Found guilty, he was fortunate not to have been hanged.  The Dutch claim to Acadia ended abruptly, before Steenwijck had ever set foot there.

There is warm friendship today between Holland and Canada, because Canadian troops helped to drive out the Germans in 1944-1945.   Every year Holland sends thousands of tulip bulbs to Ottawa, and their display in Ottawa is one of the outstanding attractions of the capital, the Tulip Festival.


  1. This was entertaining! Do you think maybe interest in the birth location went both ways? Maybe the Canadians didn’t want a possible future king of Holland born in Canada? Did they give the hospital room back, or can women still go there and give birth in Holland?

    Have a happy silly Sunday!


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