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City ties between Burlington and Apeldoorn confirm long friendship

New park bench symbolizes relationship

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BURLINGTON, Ontario - The long-planned twinning of this Ontario city with the town of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands recently was made official. In Burlington, the mayors of both communities signed the sister city agreement, witnessed by Dutch Canadians, war veterans and officials.

Burlington’s mayor R. MacIsaac and his Apeldoorn counterpart Mr. F. de Graaf expressed the hope that the agreement would lead to ‘extended cooperation between the citizens’ societies, the schools and the business community in both towns.’ According to Mayor MacIsaac, such an agreement between cities only works through the participation of as many people as possible.

A new symbol of the recent sister city agreement has been erected in Burlington. A park bench, officially called the Apeldoorn Bench, was given a prominent spot on the shore of Lake Ontario. In Burlington’s Nelson High School an exhibit shows works by students of an Apeldoorn high school.

Mutual contacts

The Dutch branch of the Apeldoorn Burlington Committee is pursuing individual sister ties between schools, sports organizations and the business community in both cities. An Apeldoorn trade mission will visit Burlington next spring.

Following the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1945, Apeldoorn served as headquarters of the Canadian army until it was repatriated. In recent decades the city hosted a number of national Liberation anniversaries in which Canadian war veterans took centre stage. Another anniversary celebration, likely the last one with veterans participating, has been planned for May 2005.


The twinning idea grew from contacts made by the Burlington Teen Tour Band and its director Don Allan during its participation in Liberation anniversary parades. An Apeldoorn band subsequently visited Burlington, followed by high school students visiting back and forth. Mayor De Graaf credits Burlington clothier Jack VanderLaan for his tireless efforts at nourishing the twinning idea. VanderLaan’s drive changed Apeldoorn’s policy of no more sister city ties into a warm embracement of one with Burlington.

One observer noted that in effect Burlington capitalized on Apeldoorn’s decades-old ties with Canada. The Ontario lakeshore town is home to a vibrant Dutch Canadian community, Canadian branches of Dutch international companies, and Dutch Canadian owned enterprises of which some have drawn a continent-wide customer base. Burlington also is the Canadian home base for the Christian Reformed Church in North America and is agencies.