Opened on July 14, 1932 the International Peace Garden on the border of Canada and the USA near Dunseith, North Dakota is the world’s largest unfortified border, “Like No Other Place On Earth”. It encompasses 2,300 acres of botanical gardens and on a stone caim on the border are inscribed these words:
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.
What a great thought all those years ago as a symbol of friendship between the two nations.
The sounds of bell chimes faintly echo every fifteen minutes from the Veterans Memorial Bell Tower. The nearby 120′ concrete Peace Tower has four columns symbolizing the four corners of the world from which thousands of immigrants arrived in Canada and the United States to make better lives for themselves. Two of the columns are in Manitoba, Canada while the other two columns are in North Dakota. The foundation symbolizes one solid base of democratic beliefs between the two countries.
The Peace Chapel provides the perfect place to sit down and relax, meditate, or read the positive thoughts written on the walls. The Peace Chapel has been a long time project of area members of the Order of the Eastern Star and is the only building which straddles the United States and Canadian border. While the chapel is a simple building, the addition of amber glass windows from France gives it a soft, golden, peaceful glow.
The three encircling walls into which quotations have been engraved were one of the special features that grabbed my attention. All quotations were either spoken or written by great men of peace throughout history. Some of the limestone walls still have embedded fossils of strange marine life, which had been molded into the bed of a tropical sea in the Manitoba region millions of years ago.
Flower beds are around every corner here, but two displays that have been constant from the beginning are beds forming the United States and Canadian flags. A beautiful International Peace Garden Floral Clock actually works and was originally donated by Bulova in 1966. This original was designed as a replica of the famous Bulova Floral Clock in Berne, Switzerland, but inner workings were replaced in recent years by a clock from St Louis, Missouri. The clock contains over 2,000 flowers with the design changing yearly, and reminds visitors to take time for the peaceful feeling surrounding the gardens.
Just down the road in the Turtle Mountains near Dunseith, North Dakota is the largest man-made turtle in the world. Constructed of nearly 2,000 wheel rims, this “W’eel Turtle made from Wheels” has a head that actually bobs up and down. While the turtle is nearly forty feet long, its head alone weighs almost a ton! Stop and visit this tire rim sculpture at Dale’s Thrifty Barn – a gas-station, cafe, and motel in Dunseith, North Dakota. Little extras like this always bring a smile.
Turtle Mountains seem to be a perfect location for the International Garden of Peace as the slow movement of the turtle gives a relaxed and peaceful feeling just like the gardens. May peace prevail in your world as well. We should all attempt to be more like the turtle… at ease in our own shell.
The International Peace Garden in North Dakota can be reached by taking I-29 North in North Dakota to Exit 203. Take Route 81/281 West to Dunseith where 281 bends North to the Canadian border. This is a beautiful back-road drive away from the crowds.