Malak Karsh was born in Turkey in 1915 and followed his photographer brother Yousuf to Canada in the 1930s. Malak had a deep appreciation for Ottawa’s landscape and wanted to capture thesurrounding beauty of every season. His first photograph to gain fame was popularly known as “Paper and Politics”. It graced the back of the Canadian one-dollar bill, while the front featured Queen Elizabeth II, a portrait taken by Yousuf.
One of Malak’s greatest contributions to Ottawa’s history came after Canada began receiving tulips from the Dutch Royal Family, as an expression of gratitude for the nation’s hand in liberating the Netherlands during World War II and providing sanctuary for young Princess Juliana. Malak was drawn to the beauty of the tulips and took hundreds of photographs of them.
In 1952 Malak approached the Ottawa Board of Trade with the idea for an annual Tulip Festival. A year later the first Tulip Festival was celebrated, and it continues to attract thousands of visitors to the nation’s capital every May. Malak Karsh passed away in 2001 and at the time of his death he remained honorary president of the Tulip Festival.