We have a most wonderful park nearby...which straddles the 49th parallel...and is called Peace Arch Park. The Peace Arch itself was erected on the international border between Blaine, Washington and Douglas, British Columbia. It is a most impressive structure...with one foot anchored firmly on American soil and the other in Canada. It stands 67 feet high...and was constructed by an international force of volunteers to mark the centennial of the treaty that ended the War of 1812. The Peace Arch represents the longest undefended boundary in the world...and was the first monument dedicated to world peace ever erected. It was dedicated in 1921.
So much for history. My own history with Peace Arch park goes back to the 1960's. It was our favorite spot to have an annual picnic with the cousins...uncles and aunts...and any acquaintances who happened to be travelling through at that particular time. Every summer we packed up the car...watermelon and rollkuchen were a pre-requisite...and off we went for a most enjoyable time at a park which sat on the fence between our two countries. In those days...we ran back and forth without passports...between slices of watermelon. I'm not sure if it's quite so simple today.
We had fun going through my dad's old slides not so long ago...and found proof of our summertime picnics at Peace Arch Park.
Gotta love those old cars!
The gardens were amazing in those days...and maybe even gave the motorists something to smile about as they waited in the line-up to cross the border. Today, the international park's picturesque gardens are home to over 200 perennials and 55,000 annuals that are planted each year. Over 500,000 visitors tour this international historic site annually.
I was rather surprised to hear that Washington State Parks Commission had placed Peace Arch Park (the U.S. side) on the list of parks that would be closed on July 1, 2009 as part of an effort to cut their budget. A petition was launched in an effort to save the park...and as Washington politicians met these week to endorse the cut-backs...Peace Arch Park was removed from the list. Whew! Wouldn't it be a shame to close this wonderful border park just as the world arrives at our doorstep for the 2010 Olympics?
I'm sure the historical significance of this park had something to do with keeping it open. Somehow it would seem wrong to close this particular park...which has so much meaning for both our countries...and which came to be as a result of donations and volunteers.
Here's a picture I pulled from my files...circa 1977...of my little boys standing inside the historic arch. I'm sure they never really grasped the significance of a message..."May These Gates Never Be Closed"...which not only reflects on the past, but also gives hope for the future.
If you are looking for a great spot to have a picnic this summer...try Peace Arch Park. You will be welcome!