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Burlington’s 2003 Friendship event attracted wide participation

Signing ceremony postponed due to SARS

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BURLINGTON, Ontario - Record attendance marked the sixth annual Friendship Day activities even though some key guests were prevented from coming. A short-lived SARS-prompted W.H.O. advisory against Toronto-bound travel forced the postponement of the signing ceremony which was to be a step in the twinning process of Dutch city Apeldoorn and Burlington. Serious health concerns kept Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire (ret.) from attending the highly-publicized Canada Netherlands Friendship Day. The community turned out in record numbers however.

Canadian war veterans at the City Hall plaza mingled with local dignitaries, special event guests and the area’s Dutch Canadians and their friends. A number of people had traveled several hundreds of kilometres to attend the event which celebrated the 1945 Liberation of the Netherlands and the friendship that flowed from it.

Before the official proceedings started at Saturday May 3 noon, a lone Lancaster bomber, sponsored by Canadian war veteran widow June Shore, droned overhead, reminding older Dutch Canadians of the payloads these planes carried during the occupation years. The Allied planes also were used to drop food in the days before the Liberation in 1945.

Signing postponed until October

The event which receives Burlington city support through a May 5th Canada Netherlands Friendship Day proclamation, attracted representatives from every level of government, including those of the Netherlands. Ontario Deputy Premier Elizabeth Gosar Witmer raised the Dutch flag while Dutch defense attaché to Canada, Lt. Col. Leo van den Heuvel saluted it. The Canadian flag was attended to by Mayor Rob MacIsaac along with members of the Canadian military and veterans while hundreds watched the ceremony. The Burlington Teen Tour Band of conductor Rob Bennett and the Torkest Accordion Orchestra from Veghel, the Netherlands with their music added a festive note to the proceedings. The Burlington Army Cadets for the first time attended the event and performed a range of duties.

The evening gathering at a Burlington park facility also attracted more people than previous years. Various groups performed at the crowded standing room only hall while Apeldoorn enthusiast, Burlington Concert Band conductor Don Allan opened the program outside with a performance by his music group. The Torkest Accordeon Orchestra and Harold De Haan’s Ambassador Male Chorus rounded out the musical frame of the evening-leg of the Canada Netherlands Friendship Day.

Both events were attended by a group of interested Apeldoorn citizens who traveled on their own initiatives. The signing of twinning memoranda of Apeldoorn and Burlington tentatively has been rescheduled to an October 2003 date.

A special supplement, the Friendship Herald, was inserted into the Windmill Herald for The Canada Netherlands Friendship Association. The publication, along with the 2001 and 2002 editions, also can be viewed on