By Dorothy Turcotte
Immediately after WW II, many from the Netherlands chose to immigrate to Canada to start new lives.
Before the war, however, Queen Juliana came to Canada in 1940 after the German occupation of her homeland. While residing in Ottawa, she gave birth to Princess Margriet and, post-war, presented Canada with a gift of thousands of tulip bulbs, which ultimately spurred creation of the Canadian Tulip Festival.
Also post-war, Queen Julianna made a visit to Grimsby in 1952 after an invitation from well-known businessman Harold Jeffries.
Many had experience with farming and horticulture, and the Niagara Peninsula was the ideal place for them to settle.
Jeffries, a Grimsby resident and businessman, had purchased land on the escarpment including the Alway House on Ridge Road. He divided the land into small farms, and turned the house into a reception centre for the many Dutch people who began to flood into the Grimsby area.
He helped many of these new Canadians to find jobs and homes.
“I didn’t happen to work for Mr. Jeffries, but I had a lot of friends who did,” said John Termorshuizen, who lived right across the street from Alway School.
Queen Juliana sat in one of the little desks to talk to the children and their teacher, Margaret Morrison. This famous desk is preserved at Grimsby Museum.
Now a resident of Maplecrest Village in Grimsby, Termorshuizen was starstruck when seeing the queen.
“I heard she was in town. We lived right across the street and I saw a bunch of people,” he recalled.
“I just wanted to get a photo, but when she came out of the school she came right up to me and put out her hand so I could shake hands with her. I was surprised. I am from Holland and never met anyone in the royal family and there I was shaking hands with the queen.”
Termorshuizen never did get his photo, but he has a great memory, as do his brothers and sisters – Ernie, Jake and Maryke, who were
attending Alway School at the time.
Prior to the Alway stop, Jeffries was able to arrange for a luncheon for Queen Juliana and her retinue of 28 people.
The meal was served at El Rancho Casa Blanca under the watchful eye of host Cec Day.
Alfreda Jefferies of Grimsby, who turned 99 this summer, was also in attendance.
“The queen was very gracious. It was a remarkable to see her right in our little town,” she recalled.