Historyof the Peace Arch

Published on Thu, Jun 2, 2005 by Richard Clark

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History of the Peace Arch

By Richard Clark

Part Four:
Peace Arch Poetry
Wenatchee World columnist Alice Buchanan was a Pullman passenger aboard the Empire Builder in 1928 when she happened to meet Peace Arch founder Samuel Hill, who invited her to his compartment for an interview.
There she learned he was fond of poetry. “He even recited one of his own poems,” she reported. I’ll guess he recited the poem he presented, and probably authored, at the close of his address during the dedication of the Peace Arch September 6, 1921:
Our fathers fought with
Washington,
With Lincoln our sons died,
But at the birth of freedom
All arms were laid aside.
In other lands men fought
for power,
And some for kingly state,
America thine aim endure
To make thy people great.
For thee no foreign conquest,
No fratricidal strife,
No anarch, no oppressor
Strikes at the Nation’s life.
Be thine, O Star of Destiny,
Child of great nature’s plan,
To show the Fatherhood of God,
The Brotherhood of Man.

Another poem appeared in the souvenir program. It bears a subtitle: “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts.”
Pax Nobiscum
1814 – 1921 – 1620
By Justin Wilson
True to its kind, the seeds
the farmer sows
Breaks through the soil, and
to the harvest grows,
Then shall mankind from
bitter thoughts reap peace?
The thoughts of men make
hell below,
And warlike thoughts must
find for their increase
The roar of battle, or
assassin’s blow.
In friendship through the
passing of the years,
Guiltless of blood, and of
the widow’s tears,
Have dwelt in peace, men
whose great aim hath been
To live as brethren, and
those laws maintain,
Gifted to man by God, the
great Unseen,
As surely as the sunshine
and the rain.
Three crosses mark the flag
the British fly,
While from the good God’s
own fair starlit sky
America bedecks the line
on line;
Though different, yet the
flags are surely still
The emblems of a cause
that is divine,
And certain tributes to a common will.
To do his will three
hundred years ago,
Risking the peril of a savage foe,
Men on the Mayflower
sailed from Plymouth town
To make a race that should
the world subdue,
Yet using not harsh terms
nor angry frown,
To win men’s hearts, the
conquest held in view.

Still blood was spilt – shame
it were ever so,
The God-created sinking
down so low;
But then repenting for their
swords they took
That which hath made the
strong to conquer all,
A holier weapon – just a
reaping hook;
The might of God is in such
things so small.

And so men raise a monument
to peace,
Praying the while that war shall
surely cease,
But what is stone – doth not our
God require
Mankind to seek His lasting
peace above?
Torch then the cold stone into
living fire,
And kindle in all hearts a
brother’s love.

The poet’s granddaughter, Lynda Daddona, lives in Burnaby. “His occupation was as a writer and he was the Fraser Valley correspondent for the Vancouver World newspaper, which merged into the Vancouver Sun,” she said. “Victor Harbord Harbord wrote his newspaper articles under his own name, but his poetry was written and often published under the pen name Justin Wilson. Victor was born in Ireland in 1872, was raised in Bath, England and spent much of his adult life managing a tea plantation in Ceylon and in New Guinea. He died in New Westminster in 1943.”
In the course of my research, I uncovered 27 poems reflective of the Peace Arch, itself a work of poetry cast in concrete and steel, thereby associating peace with potency and power instead of anything wan and weak. The poems appear in Appendix A, pages 289-312 of Sam Hill’s Peace Arch: Remembrance of Dreams Past available at our local library and www.thecshop.com.