Aug 18, 2014

War of 1812 Peace Gardens

It is so easy to drive by places day after day and not notice what is along the way. In my case it was the 1812 Peace Garden on Oswego’s Leotta-Seaway Trail Park. I knew about the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail because when John and I were in Batavia we visited theirs.  Volunteers were busy planting new flowers.  They had box lunches which they offered to share with us. Another wonderful person-to-person experience. 

When I returned home I did some research on the Peace Gardens and learned that the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail commemorates two hundred years of peace and friendship between the United States and Canada. Our shared border is the world’s longest undefended border. The 1812 commemorative gardens are part of the International Peace Gardens established in 1992 in Canada to promote global friendship and international understanding. The history is fascinating. During WW II Canada offered a safe haven for the Dutch Royal Family. During their stay Princess Juliana gave birth to a daughter, Margriet. That day the Canadian Parliament declared the hospital wing where she
was born to be Dutch territory so that one day Margriet would be able to inherit her country’s throne. She is currently eighth in line of succession. Each year the royal family sends thousands of tulips to show their gratitude. In that same spirit of friendship Ottawa gifted the United States with a tulip garden. There are International Peace Gardens in many countries. Each year an International Peace Garden is dedicated in a city around the world to recognize the contributions that the city/country has made in making the world more peaceful. Their motto is “Let the seeds of peace begin here and spread throughout the world.”

The War of 1812 Commemorative Gardens are an outgrown of the International Peace Garden movement. There are 17 War of 1812 Peace Gardens along Lake Ontario at places that were significant during the War of 1812. The garden route covers more than 600 miles. It is only right that there is one in Oswego where so many significant events of the “Forgotten War” took place.  Oswego’s was developed in 2003 by City Engineer Anthony a. Loetta, the Jay Saternow family and several community volunteers. It is part of the Leotta-Seaway Trail Park and the Oswego Harbor Rail Trail with a pedestrian Bridge that spans the Oswego River and continues on to Fort Ontario. 

The creation of a pedestrian walkway out of the defunct rail tracks
is a wonderful way to connect the city for walkers and bikers. It is a great reuse of property.  The Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie opened to the public in 2009 and is a popular place for biking, hiking, and walking with over three million users since it opened. Many events have been developed to raise money for its upkeep. Because of its elevation it offers great views of the Hudson River and the countryside. There are historic panels along the way. 

One of the newest walkways is the one-mile High Line in New York City on the elevated former NY Central Railroad spur. It is on my “Gotta’ Do” list. Meanwhile I will enjoy Oswego’s. There are informational signs on the edifice between the garden and the walkway over the river.  The edifice is designed to look like a railway station so there are lovely benches.