27 October

Cornelius Steenwijck (d. 1684)

Holland Claims Acadia

During World War II, when Holland was occupied by the Germans, Princess Juliana and her three children were evacuated to Ottawa. The princess was due to give birth to another child, and since the baby would be in the direct line of succession to the throne of Holland, it was desirable that the birth should take place on Dutch territory. Prime Minister Mackenzie King arranged to have a room in the Ottawa Civic Hospital ceded to Holland, and the baby was born there.

It was not the first time that Holland had claimed territory in Canada. In the seventeenth century the Dutch were as active as the British, French and Spanish in the establishment of colonies. They had founded New York in 1626, calling it New Amsterdam, and invaded Newfoundland several times. In 1674, Captain Aernoutsz, who was based in the 'West Indies, decided to capture Acadia, which then belonged to France. He obtained the help of Captain John Rhoades of Boston, an experienced pilot, and organized an expedition which captured Governor Chambly and a number of small forts. Aernoutsz then claimed the territory for Holland, and on October 27, 1676, the Dutch West India Company appointed one Cornelius Steenwijck as governor of the newly-acquired province.

Aernoutsz tried to enforce a blockade so that the ships of other nations could not trade in Acadia. This annoyed the New Englanders who enjoyed a good trade there, and when some of their ships were seized by the Dutch, countermeasures were organized. An armed fleet sailed from Boston and intercepted some of Rhoades' ships in the Bay of Fundy. There was a sea battle in which Rhoades was captured, and then taken to Boston where he was tried for treason and piracy. Found guilty, he was fortunate not to have been hanged. The Dutch claim to Acadia ended abruptly , before Steenwijck had ever set foot there.

There is warm friendship today between Holland and Canada, because Canadian troops helped to drive out the Germans in 1944-1945. Every year Holland sends thousands of tulip bulbs to Ottawa, and their display in Ottawa is one of the outstanding attractions of the capital.


27 October

-1812    The second party of Selkirk colonists arrive at the Red River.

-1835    The legislature of Lower Canada opened an important session that dealt with a measure to light Montreal with gas.

-1856    The Grand Trunk Railway was opened between Montreal and Toronto.

-1883    Sir John A. Macdonald appealed for financial help for the C.P.R., then almost bankrupt.

-1961    The Victoria Rifles of Canada celebrated its centennial. It is the oldest regiment in Montreal.

-1962    A new agreement averted a strike of 6,000 employees of the C.P.R.