On July 4th and 5th, 1931, Rotarian's from Canada and the United States met in Waterton at the Prince of Wales hotel for a goodwill meeting. While the organizers only expected a small gathering of Rotarian's from both side of the border, the response was enthusiastic for the opportunity to stay in a first class hotel during the depression was a great luxury. Nearly 100 members from seven Rotary Cubs in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana participated.
“At dinner, the two nation view from the hotel dining room was both commanding and inspiring and the diners could not help but reflect on the symbolic appropriateness of it all: the location, the date and the company in the room.” (1)
Rev. Canon S.H. Middleton of Cardston, Alberta moved and it was seconded by Harry B. Mitchell of Great Falls, Montana that: (3)
Whereas one hundred members of the Rotary Clubs, representing the cities of Cardston, Lethbridge and Calgary, Alberta; Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula of Montana and Estevan, Saskatchewan are assemble together attending an international meeting at Waterton Lakes National Park.
“And whereas, it has been decided that a similar annual meeting be held alternatively at Glacier Park, Montana and Waterton Park, Alberta.”
“Therefore , be it resolved , that the proper authorities be petitioned to commence negotiations to establish the two parks indicated as a permanent International Peace Park which shall be definitely set aside for this laudable purpose.”
“Pledging our loyalty and allegiance to foster all International Relationships.”
The Rotarian's on both sides of the border successfully lobbied their respective politicians and in the short time of one year, the Governments of Canada and the United States approved the establishment of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park which was dedicated on June 18th, 1932. Authorized by the U.S. Congress and Canada's Parliament, the peace park designation combines the 203-square-mile Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada with the 1,600-square-mile Glacier National Park in the United States. The arrangement allows both national parks to operate as separate entities under the peace park mantle. Each September, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Association (WGIPPA) hosts a goodwill gathering at the peace park. In even years, Rotarian's from nearly 150 clubs within the three districts meet on the U.S. side, and in odd years on the Canadian side. (1), (2), (3) – Excerpts from Born of a Vision, by Chris Morrison, Published by Waterton Natural History Association and the Pincher Creek Rotary Club.(2007
Hands Across the Border
Who runs the Peace Park?
Waterton and Glacier are each ultimately responsible for the management of their own parks. Their budgets and administrations are separate. The two parks strive to work collaboratively on projects affecting both parks, such as park publications, research projects, and interpretive activities.
How is Rotary involved in the Peace Park today?
Rotary International through the clubs in Districts 5080, 5360, 5370 and 5390 continues its support of the Peace Park through the International Peace Park Association. Annual assemblies and ceremonies, such as “Hands across the Border,” serve to remind the parks of perhaps their greatest resource–the peace and friendship shared by two great nations. Since the first meeting in 1931, these gatherings have provided an opportunity for Rotarian's to discuss ways of promoting peace. They have erected symbolic artifacts, conducted ceremonies, and promoted the idea of peace parks elsewhere.