70th anniversary of liberation of the Netherlands celebrated at Black Watch Armoury
This is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, when Canadian soldiers helped the Dutch regain their freedom from the Nazis.
To mark the anniversary a special celebration was held Monday at the Black Watch Armoury in Montreal, on the date also used to mark the birthday of the King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
Decades after soldiers and tanks rolled through small Dutch towns, the end of the war is a cherished memory by those who were there.
A list of the successful battles hangs prominently on the walls inside the Armoury, including the home town of one man who spoke to CTV.
"Groningen, that is where I'm from, and it was the highlanders who liberated Groningen during the last seven days of the war. When you see that, you know, I'm touched."
Hundeds of Netherlanders, many wearing the country's traditional colour orange, showed up for the celebration at the Armoury to renew their bond with Canadian veterans such as Jim Wilkinson.
Over the past four decades he's visited the Netherlands often, maintaining his ties to those he met.
"The children were this high," he said, holding his arm below his waist. "[One] girl was only about four years old when I first met her. She's a doctor now."
Men like him are the reason this Dutch national holiday has become a tribute to not only Canada and its soldiers, but to the spirit that unites two countries.
Michael Polak, the honorary consul of the Netherlands, put it best.
"There are graves of Canadian soldiers that fell in Holland that are still tended to this day and will always be tended by the Dutch people," said Polak.