Merrickville-Wolford council rejected a request from the Tulip Festival to have a military re-enactment in the Village over the May long weekend. The re-enactment, which has been part of the Tulip Festival for a number of years, is based on a liberation theme and includes a military encampment, display of vintage military vehicles, battle scene re-enactment, a vintage aircraft flyover (dependent on weather), a liberation dance, and church parade. The re-enactment was being held at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa but, due to the reconstruction of the grounds in spring 2018, there will not be space to hold it there.
According to a presentation given by members of the Tulip Festival to the Merrickville Industry, Tourism and Economic Development Committee in March, it was estimated that the re-enactment would attract between 1,000 and 2,000 visitors to Merrickville over the weekend.
Although it was recommended by the Industry, Tourism and Economic Development Committee that the opportunity be taken, the motion to support it was defeated. This was largely due to councillor Victor Suthren’s position that he could not support the militarization of Merrickville.
“As much as I respect people that re-enact history, I can’t support those in Third Reich uniforms on our streets,” he said at the council meeting. Councillor Suthren is no stranger to military history, having been the Director General of the Canadian War Museum from 1986 until 1997.
Councillor Anne Barr was one of the councillors who supported the re-enactment, believing that it was not glorifying war. “They tied it to the theme of liberation, not the glorification of war,” she said. “It would be the same as having military vehicles in our parade on Canada Day.”
Regardless, Council decided that the event would not be part of this summer’s festivities in Merrickville. According to Executive Director of the Tulip Festival, Michel Gauthier, they are unsure of where they are going to hold the re-enactment, now that Merrickville-Wolford has declined their request.