Thursday, March 19, 2009

Peace Arch Park

We know times are tough...and fiscal restraint is the order of the day...but would they really close Peace Arch Park?

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!


  1. What symbolism there! (I confess that I had no idea that it existed.) It looks like one amazing place and the message on the arch should be taken to heart forever and ever.

  2. Judy,, what a wonderful history lesson here! We, also, enjoyed picnics there. I love your old photos!

  3. Judy . .thank you for this post. It brought many memories back to me as well. We also had family picnics there. . .does anyone do family reunion picnics anymore? I miss them ..along with the watermelon, rollkuchen and mom's potato salad. ..(not the same when I have to make it). . I digress.
    I appreciate your pictures from your slides. .they are so clear.

  4. Oh...thanks for that walk down memory lane and a bit of history. I had no idea of its HUGE significance with being the first every monuement dedicated to Peace. Thank goodness it looks like the park is is being saved!

  5. It looks like such a beautful park, Judy, and it has such a wonderful meaning!

    I see you've update your grands phots! They are all so darling!

  6. We used to have many family picnics there....Each day I'm learning more from you.
    I'm hoping your forcast of summer is coming soon.

  7. Old pictures are the best! So many memories..

  8. Ohh! I can't imagine the park closing !! Does "May these gates never close" not mean anything?
    Thank you so much for this informative post! I too have fond childhood memories of this park.
    I thought of taking our Mississippi friends there .. but maybe next time in summer when the gardens are all in bloom!

  9. This is a good way to end my day. A history lessons with interesting photos to go with it. I never heard of this park, so I am so thankful that you did today's post on it. How wonderful that they took it off the list. Maybe now I will have an opportunity to visit it someday.

  10. Wonderful message, Judy! I love the pictures and pics with the cars bring back great memories of a slightly slower paced time , I'm sure most are thinking if only....

  11. I think I must have missed out as a this close and not having memories of picnics in this park...although maybe I just don't remember..but I do remember going through to Mount Baker every summer. That would be another story I suppose. Lovely park and great post...thanks.

  12. Rolling down the lawn-covered hill on the US side of the park was such fun at family picnics in the 50's. By the sixties we were begging for permission to cross the railroad track and go down to the beach. What a shame it would be to close this park! Glad they decided to keep it open. They could probably find volunteers to help maintain parts of it.

  13. I live about 20 minutes from the Peace Arch Park. Like you, I have fond memories of family get togethers there. And doesn't everyone who's been there have photos in front of the Arch as well as by the beautiful flower gardens? Don't you love the old wooden sided picnic building...and did you ever ride the train there as part of a classroom field trip? So glad some of us old schoolers get to keep one our familiar landmarks.



'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson