Princess Margriet, sister of former Queen Beatrix and aunt to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, opened a new exhibition on emigration to Canada at the Open Air Museum in Arnhem called “We are going to Canada.” The exhibition hopes to present the dilemmas facing potential emigrants in the 1950s. The exhibition is sponsored by the Heersink family, who emigrated to Canada with their four sons.
Between 1880 and 1910 and after the Second World War many Dutch people living in the countryside moved to the United States and Canada. The farm where the exhibition is located is from the Frisian Midlum.
Princess Margriet has a close connection to Canada; she was born in Ottawa during the Second World War. Her family had been living in Canada since 1940 after the occupation of the Netherlands. The maternity ward of the Ottawa Civic Hospital in which Princess Margriet was born was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government.
After Princess Margriet’s arrival with the Mayor of Arnhem, Mr Marcouch, the deputy commissioner of the King, Mrs Schouten, by tram, the opening speech was held by Mr Bijleveld, the director of the museum. One the Heersink sons also spoke of his personal recollections of his family’s move to Canada. Princess Margriet then took the stage to speak of her experiences in Canada.
“I have returned to Canada many times, often for official visits connected to remembrances of the Second World War. I always feel that very special connection. My husband and I keep in touch with veterans in Canada but also in our own country. Brave boys. Soldiers from Canada who fought alongside the Allies and played a crucial part in the liberation of our country.”
She then unveiled a luggage chest, which was often the only thing emigrants were allowed to bring.