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Queen Beatrix' European beech tree at RBG has new marker

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BURLINGTON, Ontario- The climax for the Dutch Canadian community during Dutch Queen Beatrix's 1988 State Visit to Canada occurred at the Royal Botanical Gardens, where a festive community event had been organized in her honour. To commemorate the occasion for generations to come, Queen Beatrix, aided by RBG curator Freek Vrugtman, and watched by a large group of enthusiastic onlookers, planted a tricolor European beech tree at the garden.

Just recently, a small gathering watched as officials unveiled a new marker to commemorate the planting of the Queen's tree, which over the years has grown to maturity and obscured a small sign on the tree trunk, which had long demanded a fitting replacement. The new plaque has been mounted on a striking boulder, which rests near the tree and shares to all who pass by the significance of the site.

Freek Vrugtman, who retired from his career as curator at RBG some years ago, at some point asked Burlington clothier, RBG neighbour and the founder of the Canada Netherlands Friendship Association Jack VanderLaan, if he knew of a way to upgrade the 1988 temporary sign. Although he was not involved with the Queen Beatrix' welcome in Burlington, VanderLaan found sponsors to help realize the initiative. The new marker was unveiled in the presence of Canadian and Dutch officials, including members of an Apeldoorn delegation.

Since Queen Beatrix's, visit Apeldoorn has become a twin sister city of Burlington.

Of all the foreign dignitaries arriving in Canada on State Visits, Queen Beatrix is the only royalty who can lay claim to Canadian shared experience. She can be called a former member of the Dutch Canadian community, from a time when its numbers were still very small. She, her two sisters and her mother Princess Juliana lived in exile in Ottawa for about four years.