The Influence of Landscape Gardening on International Relationship
I chose the subject, "The Influence of Landscape Gardening on International Relationship" because landscape gardening is a work in which you are vitally interested and because no phase of human endeavor yields more attractive results nor appeals more to the finer susceptibilities of the human heart. The apparent result of the practice is the transformation of unsightly places in all communities of note, into spots upon which the eye delights to rest. Cemeteries today—these sacred spots, the laying out of which it is your duty to superintend—are no longer called places of the dead, places shunned by the public, but have become through your zeal gardens of living beauty—a tribute to the intelligence of man and a sign that civilization is advancing.
It should not be assumed that a beautifully laid out and planted cemetery or a beautiful park, are assets only to the community in which located. The influence of beautifully landscaped areas extends far beyond their own environs. The passing tourist notes them; he speaks about them. They thus become an example to be emulated. Many towns and cities are known throughout the length and breadth of North America by reason of their beautiful parks and cemeteries. In the hearts of all civilized people is a love for the Beautiful things of the Creation—flowers and trees and shrubs—and so, in life, as if drawn by an invisible magnet, we find ourselves attracted to these places of beauty and in the end we have so ordained that when the soul hath left its tenement our bodies shall repose unforgotten in areas where each succeeding year the opening buds and leaves and flowers proclaim "There is no Death". Such, Mr. President and members of the American Association of Cemetery Superintendents, is your work and mission. You build a rampart of living beauty around the places where our dust shall lie and which, as a result, are no longer referred to as "places of the dead."
You hold this convention in Canada because you are attracted; you are interested in our cemeteries and parks and by the beauty of our home surroundings and landscapes. Millions of your people visit Canada for the same reason, and I may add, because you like us, and Canada is rapidly becoming the summer playground of North America. Thus the work of man in his efforts to supplement nature in planting to hide the unsightly and to enhance the already beautiful is having a great effect in bringing together our peoples and in strengthening and cementing the bonds of good-will and friendship which for more than a century have been the talk and wonder of the world.
You may be surprised to know that in Ontario, of which Toronto is the capital city, there is an organization known as the Ontario Horticultural Association which has a membership of 80,000 and comprises 285 societies. (It is purely amateur and is the largest of its kind. As you drive along the roads and through the municipalities you observe the gardens, the plantings of shrubs, the flowers of all kinds. To this organization should largely, go the credit for this desirable condition. Our people are influenced by a desire to have beautiful homes and also that the sight of them should give pleasure to visitors from the states. They are interested in them. They desire their friendship rather than their money, and they find that the influence of the beauty they have created coupled with the beauty of park and cemetery and street within our municipalities is doing more to bring about a closer feeling of friendship than any other single factor. Through this attraction the people of the United States and Canada are getting together in a way previously undreamed of and as a result a full and proper understanding will inevitably accrue.
It has been claimed that good roads are the attraction. No, not solely. Were these roads to run hundreds of miles through a wilderness, through a desert, they would be deserted except by the adventurer. Good roads are but one factor. There are two others—beauty and friendship—and of the latter, the most important, we offer you good measure, pressed down and running over.
By reason of this understanding, this closer friendship, your country and mine, two great English speaking nations, have found a common ground upon which can be expressed this great love and regard for each other in a way that will be the admiration and envy of the world. We are going to establish the world's most beautiful peace memorial at a point upon our border—an International Peace Garden. In this great garden, one half in the United States, the other in Canada, the landscape architects craft will find its greatest expression, and the influence of the resultant beauty coupled with its great sentiment, will be such as to draw all peoples—and it will become the world's greatest shrine.
What will the influence of this garden be on international relationships? Within its vast area will be trees and shrubs and flowers from all parts of the earth, Gardens beautifully landscaped to represent the national style of various countries, The governments of both countries will be asked to neutralize the area and to it will come the people of the hundred nations which compose the population of the United States and Canada and people from overseas and from the Latin countries to the south and all will be citizens of this great and beautiful area.
Nothing can be so beautiful as a garden, nothing more attractive, and it will belong to the people themselves, and the names of all subscribers will be kept for the eyes of future generations to scan; the adults in one set of volumes, the children in another, for all are to be given an opportunity to subscribe to raise the endowment of five million dollars.
Nothing appeals to the human heart more than beauty. This garden will be not merely a beautiful expression of the love of each nation for the other, but a living and enduring one. It will not crumble nor decay like a shaft of granite. The dust of centuries shall not bury it. Each circling spring will see it renewed as a mountain stream is renewed in power and beauty, and a thousand years hence it will, in its majestic grandeur, still be the greatest symbol of international friendship and goodwill.
The first International Peace Garden will be the world's strongest fortress, stronger than loop holed battlement or dugout of concrete and steel, for these cannot, stand the brunt of modern warfare. It will be the fortress of friendship built upon the rock of Christianity as expressed through the love of each nation; and in its shadow we may each forever crest secure. In friendship alone is there security, is there real happiness. Your act in coming to Canada is an act of friendship. Last year to this city came the National Association of Gardeners. That was an act of friendship. They have the same ideals and aims and are engaged in the same great work. They sponsor the International Peace Garden project.
I wonder if you realize how much your lives and work influence the thoughts of the masses toward life's better things. Your work is not a job; it is an influence. The burial of the dead is a job. The beautification of God's acre is an influence. The poet says:
"Tis all a checkerboard of nights and days
Where destiny with men for pieces plays,
Hither and thither moves and mates and slays
And one by one back in the closet lays".
But that is not true. The influence of a life is not lost for it pertains to the soul.
Your great national organization exerts an influence. It is devoted to the beautification not only of your cemeteries but of your country. You convene today to discuss your problems, to tell each other of the things you have accomplished and of the things projected and so your influence extends more rapidly than otherwise and will continue until it reaches from coast to coast and to result in a blessing to every community.
This influence is not only a national influence but an international one. The standards you set in the laying out and maintaining of your cemeteries are emulated by Canada. Your cemetery practices are very advanced. You have made a special study of the problems pertaining thereto. So in this respect we learn something from you. In certain other fields you learn from us which goes to prove that friendly international intercourse is a great medium of education as well as being the greatest factor in the maintenance of goodwill and understanding between nations. Men, and women who think only of their own immediate interests, and there are millions, lack vision. Their souls never find expression and are stifled. Men and women who think nationally have a broader, yet not the broadest, outlook. They who think internationally think of all men. To think internationally is to think like God.
You and I in our own way and through the instrumentality of our chosen and common profession are today together. Americans and Canadians bound by the ties of relationship, in, that we speak a common language and in that our traditions, honorable in the extreme can be traced back to a common ancestry, and you are not ashamed of the old mother that gave you birth. I am speaking now of your nation. We call you cousins but let me say that when the International Peace Garden is established, as it surely will, and when the international line is removed from its centre and when our governments neutralize it, we will be able to call you brothers and sisters, for all who visit this great neutral area, peoples of all nations of the world, will be citizens of that land.
Today, according to our laws, you are aliens and foreigners. Recently I visited the United States and I belonged to the foreign class, but I see the day approaching when by reason of our getting together through the building of our great Fortress of Friendship, the Peace Garden, the word "alien" will be removed from the statute books of both countries and as long as Americans and Canadians are law-abiding it will not matter under which flag they sojourn.
In conclusion will you permit me to say, and in this may there be inspiration. Your work is immortal, if anything on earth is immortal. If the painted canvas shall be treasured and so endure so shall those beauty spots you create be preserved and treasured. The results of your work are like the friendships you make today. Time shall not efface them; a century hence their verdure shall be as green, the trees as beautiful, and the ties of friendship the stronger, for such things are handed down from generation to generation. Beauty, friendship and love are all akin and in and through and round about them is God—and so they shall endure.
In that great spirit of everlasting friendship Canada welcomes you. A spirit that will not tolerate any cloud to darken the international horizon; a spirit that long ago leveled the mountains of prejudice and has done so much to bring about such meetings as these where international friendships find their greatest expression and are cemented in indissoluble bonds. In the Spirit of God—inspired friendship—which is the spirit of Canada and of the Peace Garden, you are welcomed. One day your people and ours and all peoples will throng the portals of a magnificent garden. Eyes will feast upon its beauty and be illumined with a new light. Hearts will be uplifted with a new hope and songs will rise to tongues which never sang. Children will join the chorus and the whole world will become akin. On that day will come the realization that the two great English speaking nations have set up an unparalleled and unprecedented example of love to the world. With it will also comes the realization that the hope of peace on earth and goodwill between nations as exemplified by ours, may forever endure. Hope that hellish war may forever be banished.
So will the men and women who love beauty and the boys and girls born of these with the wisdom of years and the towering faith and vision of youth remove the mountains of hatred, of prejudice, and of envy and build an insurmountable barrier in the way of those who foment war—a barrier of love and create and leave to the world its most beautiful and significant memorial. Can the members of any organization have a greater influence than that? Is any work more conducive to friendly international relationship than yours?
"There is no death—what seems so is transition". May this address be vibrant with life. May it convey the thought that good work well done, the beautiful thing created, will never be laid aside, but will continue through the years an example to those who follow and as a memorial to the integrity of those of your profession who went before.
Now may I welcome you from the depth of my own in the words of an original poem!
A LAND WITHOUT A LINE
You came to the land of the Maple Leaf
And we met you with a smile,
We took your hands in a friendly grasp
And hoped you'd stay a while.
Though you live 'neath the Stars and Stripes
And we 'neath the Union Jack,
We speak the same old mother tongue—
Uncle Sam and Jack Canuck.
Between us runs three thousand miles,
A line from coast to coast,
Where never a fort and never a gun
Is seen, we proudly boast.
No bayonet with its murderous steel,
No sentry anywhere,
And we live in peace on either side
As though no line were there.
Side by side for a hundred years,
May it be a thousand more!
With never a word to cause us grief
Nor any to make us sore.
We have lived, and still the Union Jack
And stars and Stripes unfurled
Have flown together on the line
The wonder of the world.
Please God, till earth's last sun shall set
And earth's last tear be shed,
May we two nations still be friends
When to heaven Thou call’st Thy dead.
Until on that eternal morn
As its glorious sun shall shine,
Thy nations meet around Thy throne
In a land without a line.
From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 44th Annual Convention
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
September 8, 9, 10 and 11, 1930