WINGHAM, ONT. -- The Oud brothers were born and raised in Canada, but have deep connections to their descendants in the Netherlands, and they're using that link to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

“They say in Holland, if you have something to say, you say it with flowers,” says Jason Oud.

With that in mind, Jason, Andrew and Stephen Oud decided they would mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by buying and distributing over 600 tulip bulbs around Vanastra, their hometown.

They kept 400 for themselves, to build a garden to honour their parents, who moved to Canada after the war.

“My father emigrated in the 50s. There was a post-war boom of immigrants going from the Netherlands to Canada because so many men were lost in the conflict. I think there were half-a-million Dutch citizens leave the Netherlands. I think there’s now one million Dutch descendants in Canada, today,” says Jason.

The Oud’s parents have since passed, but the opportunity to mark VE Day, honour their parents, and beautify their town, was too much to turn down.

“It is very dear to our hearts because it is for our parents, also the 75th anniversary of the Netherlands being freed. Seems like it just all came together,” says Stephen Oud.

All told, with the help of a local church, and the Vanastra Lion’s Club, over 3,000 tulip bulbs, are now blooming in Vanastra. A welcome distraction during a pandemic.

“This was long before COVID, so it’s something nice for the community to kind of keep track of, watch grow together,” says Vanastra Lion’s Club member, Linda Mclaughlan.

Lindsay Stone and her family planted 75 tulips in their garden.

“Our head horticulturalist here helped decide the planting scheme, and we were the lucky ones to have the first to bloom,” says Stone.

Over one million tulip bulbs will be blooming across Canada this spring. One for every Canadian soldier who fought in the Second World War.

In Vanastra, 3,000 will stretch towards the sunlight thanks in large part to three brothers, who will never forget where they came from.