V-E Day, 60th Anniversary: Swarms of Young Backpacking Canadians Descend Upon Netherlands for Free Booze
Seven thousand six hundred Canadians gave their lives for the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in the Second World War. To this day, the Dutch people, both young and old, remain very knowledgeable and very appreciative of the sacrifice made by Canadian troops during that dark chapter in history.
But now, as the 60th Anniversary of V-E Day arrives, the Dutch countryside is being overrun by 20-something Canadians 'finding themselves' on sojourns across Europe and expecting free beer just because they're Canadian.
"Traditionally, we have welcomed all Canadians to our community with open arms--especially veterans and their families," said Ruud Vanderbloek, the owner of the Hoedentoeden Verspleeden pub in the small Dutch town of Holten, where more than 1,300 Canadian war dead are buried. "But some of these backpacking Canadians who have been showing up out of the blue are taking advantage of our hospitality."
Vanderbloek, who lived through the Nazi occupation himself as a boy, said the young Canadian tourists are becoming increasingly obnoxious. "They just walk into the bar screaming 'Ik kom uit de Canada' [I'm from Canada], or they will just point at the Maple Leaf flag on their backpack and then point at the taps without even saying a simple 'Hello.' I thought all Canadians were supposed to be polite and diffident.
"We will always be appreciative of what Canada did for our country, but some of your people are, well...holes of a cow's ass...I am saying that correct, yes?"
Hans Vanden Van Bloehoel, a resident of Holten, concurred with Vanderbloek about the "very thirsty" Canadian backpackers who've recently materialized in his town in great numbers. "I don't mind buying a round or two for any Canadian who comes to town, but there are some Canadian youths who've been down at the pub every night for two months now. They could at least offer to pick up their own tab every now and then.
"And whenever I try to talk to them about the war, they just look at me as if I am...some type of Martian man and shout 'more beer.'"
There has long been anecdotal evidence on the backpacking circuit that the beer flows freely and your guilders are no good [we know the guilder is defunct, but it's alliteration, folks] in small-town Dutch pubs once your Canadian nationality is discovered. However, never before have so many Canadian backpackers descended upon the small European country all at the same time, all expecting freebies.
"Word gets around, man. This guy from Vancouver that I met at the Paris hostel had just come from Holland, and he was all like, 'Dude, you have got to get your ass to Holland for V-E week. Once they find out you're Canadian, you drink for free as long as you're there,'" said Marco Bertram, 23, of Saint John, New Brunswick, who said he's "taking a year or two off from school to see the world" as he sat sipping on a complimentary Grolsch in a Wageningen bar.
"I haven't paid for a drink since I got here in the Holland, or the Netherlands, or whatever the hell this country's called," continued Bertram, who comes from a military background himself. He thinks. "I think I knew someone who fought in the war...maybe it was my uncle. No, it was my Mom's cousin, Bert...too much weed in Amsterdam, man. I forget."
"With all this V-D, or V-E, or whatever stuff that's going on, it's crazy, the chicks practically mount you right there in the bar once they find out you're Canadian," elaborated Bertram's traveling companion Henry Vlimek, 22, also from Saint John. "Even the Americans traveling with us are saying they're Canadian--which they do all the time anyway--but that's usually just to avoid you know, getting yelled at. Now they're doing it to get laid. So, it's like, kinda different.
"Apparently, the Dutch really like us because of what Canada did for them way back in World War Two. I didn't know that we were in that war, cause like, we didn't become a country until 1967, I thought, but yeah, Canada, had, like, something to do with freeing the Dutch from the...Egyptians, or something like that. That's what this really hot babe named Grushilda that I met last night told me, I think."
As for suggestions that these gallivanting Canucks--most of whom are approximately the same age as the men who were fighting in the Second World War sixty years ago--are overstaying their welcome and taking advantage of Dutch hospitality, they would have none of it.
"No f'n way, dude. We Canadians saved their asses. If it wasn't for us, they'd all be speaking...Dutch now or...yeah. Dutch," exclaimed Bertram.
Added Vlimek: "Yeah, my ancestors fought in that war so that today, I would have the freedom to backpack across Europe quaffing free beer and blowing my trust fund, man.
"Now where's that waiter gone? Look buddy, put on your wooden shoes and bring us another pitcher!"
Posted on May 6th, 2005