Dakota Datebook

International Peace Gardens

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The International Peace Garden straddles the U.S.–Canadian border between Boissevain, Manitoba and Dunseith, North Dakota. It was on this date in 1932 that it was first dedicated.

The idea for the Peace Garden began as the dream of a Canadian horticulturist, Dr. Henry J. Moore, a lecturer for the Ontario Department of Agriculture.

Moore was on his way home from the 1928 annual meeting of the National Association of Gardeners in the U.S. when he came up with the idea of a botanical garden celebrating the long and peaceful coexistence of the people of Canada and the United States.

Dr. Moore presented his idea for an “International Peace Garden” at the Association’s next annual meeting, which was held in Toronto – the first time it was ever held outside the U.S. The Association liked the proposal and formed an international committee to find an appropriate site.

In North Dakota, a group calling itself the International Peace Picnic Association invited Dr. Moore and Ohio native Joseph Dunlop to visit the Turtle Mountains. They had organized specifically to promote the area as a location for the Peace Garden, and fortunately, Moore and Dunlop liked what they saw.

Dr. Moore went up for an airplane ride over the area and later said, “What a sight greeted the eye! Those undulating hills rising out of the limitless prairies are filled with lakes and streams. On the south of the unrecognizable boundary, wheat fields everywhere; and on the north, the Manitoba Forest Preserve. What a place for a garden!”

During the next three years, gardeners and horticulturists converged on the site to shape the settings and construct the gardens. Dr. Moore determined it would be “not merely a memorial to the long period of peace which has been enjoyed by both countries, but as an example to the warring nations of the world that there is a better way to settle international differences than through recourse to bloody war, and as a memorial to international friendship that shall endure to all time.”

An estimated crowd of as many as 70,000 people from Canada and the U.S. attended the dedication below a cairn with poles flying the flags of both countries.

On it is written, “To God in his Glory we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another.”

The park is an official wildlife refuge, and more than 150,000 flowers are planted on site each year.

A new feature is the 9/11 Memorial. Its plaque reads, “The International Peace Garden represents a unique and enduring symbol of the strength of our friendship as nations, our mutual respect and our shared desire for world peace. The events of September 11, 2001 failed to shake the foundation of our shared vision of peace and prosperity for all the world’s people. This cairn, composed of steel remnants rescued from the devastation of the World Trade Center in New York, ensures the memory of this tragedy will not be lost and reminds us to cherish tolerance, understanding and freedom.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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