International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) History - An Ancient Tradition


The concept of a Peace Garden is derived from the ancient traditions of the Greek, Viking, and Gaelic peoples. People were encouraged to resolve their conflicts in a Peace Grove. On entering the Peace Grove, they would leave all their weapons outside. Each Peace Grove had twelve trees, grown in an oval. A Peace Grove was known as "Bosco Sacro" or 'a place for peace', symbolic of the life and creativity that thrives in peace. The success of their conflict resolution normally required a third party who would act as a go-between.



Peace Parks in Canada and the United States, 1932

The first International Peace Park in the world was established between Canada and the United States in 1932. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park links Montana in the United States with Alberta Canada. During the 'First Global Conference - Tourism A Vital Force for Peace' held in Vancouver British Columbia in October of 1988, a Peace Tree was planted in Seaforth Park. The International Institute For Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) was created in the process of organizing the conference. Participants were asked to initiate and design places where the idea of peace could be enhanced.

In 1992, Louis J. D'Amore, founder of the International Institute For Peace Through Tourism, launched "Peace Parks Across Canada" as part of the CANADA 125 celebrations. "Peace Parks Across Canada" resulted in the dedication of more that 400 peace parks in cities, towns and villages across Canada. Most of the parks were dedicated on October 8th, 1992, at the same hour the National Peacekeeping Monument was being dedicated in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa.



International School Peace Gardens Millenium Programme

The "International School Peace Gardens" (ISPG) project was developed as a follow-up to the successful Peace Parks Across Canada celebrations. In 1993 the concept of planting a School Peace Garden was developed at West Humber Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke Ontario. West Humber Principle, Eric Foster, became the co-founder of ISPG at this time. In the early stages of the project students from the York University Faculty of Environmental Studies joined West Humber teachers in the development of a School Peace Gardens curriculum.

On February 15th, 1994, Ontario's Premier Bob Rae launched the Province's historic "Environmental Bill of Rights" at West Humber. The first Peace Tree was presented to the Premier and subsequently planted in West Humber's School Peace Garden.

Interest in the concept of using School Peace Gardens "to develop peace building curriculum and educational programs" continued to build, both in Canada and overseas. This interest led to the creation of the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC).