PEACE ARCH HISTORY
The international Peace Arch was dedicated on September 6th, 1921. This date was selected because it was the same day that the Mayflower set sale to Plymouth Rock.
The Peace Arch stands on the international boundary between Blaine, Washington, and Douglas, British
Columbia. The Arch was constructed to commemorate the centennial (1814-1914) of the signing of the Treaty of
Ghent on December 24, 1814. The Treaty of Ghent ended the war of 1812 between the United States and
Great Britain, a conflict that was waged in North America and involved Canadians as well as Americans and British.
In 1914, the international fund-raising efforts for the Arch were spearheaded by Samuel Hill, famed Washington State lawyer, financier, road builder and humanitarian, who later dedicated it on September 6, 1921. The Arch’s design was donated by H.W. Corbett, an internationally known architect. Construction began under an international workforce of volunteers in 1920.
Standing 67 feet high, the Peace Arch is made of concrete and reinforced steel with one-foot
anchored in each country. Its foundation consists of 76 fourteen-inch pilings driven 25-30
feet into the earth. The Arch was said to be one of the first structures in North America constructed to be
earthquake-proof. The 3500 sacks of concrete for the Arch’s foot walls were donated by R. P. Butchart, of Victoria, British Columbia’s Butchart Garden’s fame. E.H. Gary of New York donated 50 tons of steel.
Originally, 470 lights were “artistically set” up and down the massive pilasters and along the interior frieze of the Arch. The American side of the Arch is inscribed with the words “Children of a Common Mother,” the Canadian side, with the words “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity.” Within the portal of the Arch on the west side are the words
“1814 Open One Hundred Years 1914” and on the east side, “May These Gates Never Be Closed.”
Two bronze plaques are placed above the exterior foot walls of the Arch. One is of the Canadian steamship the Beaver; the other of the Mayflower. Wooden relics, allegedly cut from each ship, were sealed behind each plaque when the Arch was dedicated in 1921.
The shrubbery in the gardens of the original seven-acre park that surrounded the Arch was donated by Robert Moran, the famed shipbuilder who built Rosario Mansion (Rosario Resort) on Orcas Island, Washington. In 1931, the expansion of the park to 40 acres was made possible with the help of school children from Washington State and British Columbia who donated their pennies, nickels, and dimes to the project.
Today, the international park’s picturesque gardens are the home of over 200 perennials and 20,000 annuals that are planted each year. The park hosts ethnic and family gatherings, picnics, weddings, civic events and annual events of international significance. These include the International Peace Arch Association's historical celebrations: the "International Sculpture Exhibition" and annual "Hands Across the Border a Peace Arch Celebration" that was first held on International Armistice Day in 1937.
Annually 9.2 million tourists and community members pass through the park each year as they travel from country to country and over 650,000 visitors tour this international historic site yearly.
The International Peace Arch is one of the few landmarks in the world listed on the National Historic Registries of two different countries. The history of the Peace Arch reflects more than our past; its existence gives meaning to our present. As the world moves into the twenty-first century, the Peace Arch is a beacon of hope for our future.