100 Years of the International Peace Arch

September 6, 2021, marks 100 years since the International Peace Arch that straddles the Canada-US border at the Douglas crossing was completed and dedicated. The world’s first monument to peace, the idea of the Peace Arch was conceived by prominent American businessman, Sam Hill. A passionate supporter of modern (paved) roads in the Pacific Northwest, Hill was also dedicated to promoting peace and a connection between Canada and the United States. As a result, the concept of an international Peace Arch was born, however,  the actual idea for the Arch is credited to Alfred Todd, the mayor of Victoria from 1917 to 1920.

City of Vancouver Archives, Arch P11.

The Peace Arch is the world’s first monument to peace and is one of the few landmarks in the world that are listed on the National Historic Registries of two different countries. Within the arch, each side has an iron gate, and the act of leaving them open at all times symbolizes the peace between the two great nations and marks the western edge of the longest undefended border in the world. Dedicated in 1921, the lands around the Arch were obtained through donations and fundraising efforts and 20 years later, on November 7, 1939, the Peace Arch and surrounding lands on the Canadian side became Peace Arch Provincial Park.

White Rock Museum and Archives photo

Because the monument and surrounding park is considered an international park, visitors do not require either a passport or visa to visit the park, as long as they stay within the boundaries of the park and leave the park into the country from which they entered!  (Please note that due to COVID-19, Peace Arch Park is currently closed to visitors)

Fun Facts:

  • The Arch was built by an international volunteer force.
  • The 3500 sacks of concrete that were used for the Arch’s foot wallswere donated by R. P. Butchart, of Victoria, British Columbia’s Butchart Garden’s fame.
  • Standing 67 feet high, the Peace Arch is made of concrete andreinforced steel with one foot anchored in each country.
  • It was considered one of the first earthquake-resistant structures built in North America.
  • The colour of the paint, pure white, symbolizes peace.
  • 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.”
  • The dedication date, September 6th, 1921, was selected because it was the same day that the Mayflower set sail to Plymouth Rock.