Burlington Has a Special Connection to the Netherlands

Published November 22, 2017 at 5:49 pm

The last time my friend Hans was in town we wound up at Spencer Smith Park, stumbling upon Louise, a stone bench which was a gift from one of Burlington’s twin cities, Apeldoorn (the other is Itaba

The last time my friend Hans was in town we wound up at Spencer Smith Park, stumbling upon Louise, a stone bench which was a gift from one of Burlington’s twin cities, Apeldoorn (the other is Itabashi).

You see, Hans is originally from the Netherlands and was particularly curious to learn more about the city’s relationship with Apeldoorn. So we read the plaques, snapped photos, and enjoyed the view of Lake Ontario.

The two cities share history from the Second World War, according to the city’s committee clerk Lisa Palermo.

More than 100,000 Dutch citizens left the Netherlands in the two decades following the war for Canada, with many settling in Burlington.

The strong friendship continues. 


“They have a Burlington Garden and we have an Apeldoorn Park. The gardens share the same iron benches with the maple leaf and tulip motifs,” said Palermo.

Burlington Garden also has a maple leaf motif stamped into the walkways in Zonnehoeve.

Exchanges between the cities are active.

There are high school student exchanges “where Burlington students have home-stays with Apeldoorn students for 10 days and vice versa,” said Palermo.

High school students have completed soldier profiles as part of their exchange, and they’e displayed in the Holten Canadian War Cemetery (in the Netherlands) during Liberation celebrations in May of each year.

Many elementary schools take part in pen pal exchanges.

Then there are citizen delegations – Dutch citizens were here last September, and Burlington residents are going to Apeldoorn in May 2018.

Here are a few interesting facts about Apeldoorn:

  • The population of Apeldoorn is 157,000 – very similar to Burlington and growing at a rate of 10 per cent per year.
  • Apeldoorn, the Netherlands’ 10th largest city, is located in the province of Gelderland in the centre of the Netherlands.
  • Apeldoorn is the home of the official summer residence of the Royal Family – Paleis Het Loo.
  • The Royal Canadian Regiment took part in the liberation of Apeldoorn in April 1945.

Twinning is embraced by more than 1,000 communities throughout the world as a way of fostering world peace and global understanding.

Throughout Burlington’s twin city relationships with the cities of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands and Itabashi, Japan there have been many exchanges of gifts during anniversary celebrations.  

There are two distinct items in the city. The first is a granite and stone sofa named “Louise” at Spencer Smith Park.

The second is Apeldoorn Park at 1385 Elgin St.

(Photo courtesy of the City of Burlington)

The City of Burlington signed an official twinning agreement on May 6, 2005 with the City of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.

Apeldoorn is one of the Netherlands’ most progressive cities in the areas of responsible development and the environment.

This, coupled with the historic strong connections with Canadian veterans, as well as its size, makes Apeldoorn an ideal twinning partner, according to the City of Burlington.

Over the years, the twinning relationship has led to many opportunities for cultural exchange and sharing of ideas among youth and elected officials.

Burlington Garden in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands was officially opened on June 4, 2015 in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet, who visited Burlington in May 2017.

To cement the close relationship enjoyed by Burlington and Apeldoorn, Burlington Garden has been created in Zonnehoeve – Apeldoorn’s new-build neighbourhood.

The Garden is a flower, fruit and vegetable garden. The park has some very special benches, decorated with the image of the Maple Leaf.

The benches are similar to the ones in Apeldoorn Park in Burlington — the key difference being the Canadian benches are decorated with tulips.

Burlington Garden will be maintained by the people living in the area and residents of Heeren Loo, which supports people with mental health challenges.

Apeldoorn Park is located at 1385 Elgin St. in Burlington and features a large planter containing about 700 Apeldoorn tulip bulbs and playground equipment painted in the colour orange associated with the Dutch Royal Family.

The parks were designed with input from staff at the cities of Burlington and Apeldoorn.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the twinning of Burlington with the City of Apeldoorn and the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, Mayor Rick Goldring; Ward 6 Coun. Blair Lancaster (who’s the mundialization committee’s council member); Scott Stewart, general manager of development and Infrastructure; Rob Peachey, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces; Ed Dorr, Chair of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee; and Charles Minken, Chair of Burlington’s Apeldoorn subcommittee were in the Netherlands May 3 to May 9, 2015.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band and a citizen delegation were also in Apeldoorn.

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