AHistory of the Peace Arch

Published on Thu, Dec 9, 2004 by ichard Clark

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A History of the Peace Arch

By Richard Clark

Part one of the Peace Arch story introduced Samuel Hill, R. Rowe Holland, N.D. Showalter, Andrew Danielson and Rogan Jones to The Northern Light readers. I wish to acknowledge a few more in part two.

G. Adolph Miller, an affiliate of Miller Brothers Insurance in Bellingham, was the Peace Arch pioneer who conceived, organized and annualized an event called International Flag Day. Sponsored by the International Flag Day Association, of which Miller was the founding president, the first Peace Arch celebration was held July 2, 1927. There, flags of the United States and Canada were hoisted atop the portal. Four American Boy Scouts exchanged flags with four Canadian Girl Scouts, attendees sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Save the King,” and mayors Taylor of Vancouver and Kellogg of Bellingham presented speeches.

Miller’s International Flag Day Association merged with Holland’s Peace Memorial Association of British Columbia in 1932, the only year the celebration was cancelled because the park, under construction, was a sea of mud. Year 1937 saw both associations subsumed by Jones’ International Peace Arch Program Association that sponsored annual events destined to become the June celebrations familiar to us today. Since 1967 the word “Program” has been removed from the association’s title.

Rogan Jones had been president of the International Peace Arch Program Association three years before Dr. Theodore Rasmussen, Bellingham, a favorite master of ceremonies at the annual celebrations, succeeded him in 1940. From that year to the present, presidents have been elected annually on an alternating basis. A Washington state president serves one year, and a president from British Columbia serves the next year. Many have been reelected.

Permit me to cite a few more presidents. William Mott (1948), Louis Sangster (1950) and F.H. Jackson (1952) were New Westminster mayors. School superintendent Vernon McDonald (1965) and chamber president Robert Bainter (1967) represented Blaine. Several served multiple years. Ted King, Deming, served eight years. Rogan Jones and Nellie Brown Duff, Bellingham, served five years. Grant Ward, Langley, and Dolly Greensides, Surrey, B.C., served three years. Additional presidents came from Seattle, Oak Harbor, Lynden, Custer, Vancouver, Newton, Cloverdale, and White Rock. Business was usually conducted in the park.

Peter J. Barbeau, who was named the state park’s first superintendent (1937-49), convinced the state park commission to underwrite a park development project. When Blaine suddenly needed a mayor, he was chosen to fill that position March 1948 to the year’s end. Canadian landscaping was in the hands of John Booth. Barbeau wrote a poem, “The White Arch of Peace,” and Booth composed the lyrics for D.L. Heywood’s song, “Where the Peace Arch Stands.” Soon D.M. McKenzie, hired to manage the provincial park, worked harmoniously with Barbeau.

Limited space precludes worthy discussion of park caretakers who succeeded Barbeau and McKenzie. Wayne Eden, a Vietnam veteran who became our present Washington state park ranger, is serving the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Today’s Peace Arch personality successful in gaining chamber admiration and council support is songwriter, guitarist and soloist Christina Alexander, founder and president of the United States Canada Peace Anniversary Association. No way could my original Peace Arch essay have slipped into the History Channel without her effort. Nor could we have explored an art train, heard the Welsh Guards, found the Peace Arch in CBC’s Early Edition, seen international art displays or a rainbow when it wasn’t raining. Of late this leading lady has become the Peace Arch City’s world traveler for peace.

Newcomer Jerry Gay, a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer, became our most recent Peace Arch personality dedicated to the promotion of peace, community awareness and responsibility. His “Peace Arch Conversations,” presented over KARI radio each Sunday at 8:30 p.m., are creatively integrated with photos and captions in The Northern Light. He has opened the gates of communication with community folk who share their light on peace with perspectives ranging from the ultraviolet to the infrared. In my view, “the other Jerry dot com” is a dynamic innovator.

Additional Peace Arch personalities shall surface as future essays unfold. International Flag Day descriptions are found in chapter three of Sam Hill’s Peace Arch: Remembrance of Dreams Past available at our local library and www.thecshop.com. Park ranger accomplishments are recorded in chapter six, pages 218 to 248.
The Blaine Community Chamber of Commerce granted me permission to present a 20-minute discussion of Peace Arch history at its regular Wednesday noon meeting, February 2, at the Pizza Factory. I would like to open it mainly to questions and answers.