Celebrate the flying season by choosing a very unique airport and destination for your next flight. The Dunseith/International Peace Garden runway is entirely within the USA but has a taxi-way that crosses the border to a small parking apron on the Canadian side. Because you park on Canadian soil you don’t have to file any cross-border documentation. You fly into this airport as though it was any small Canadian airport. Call UNICOM 122.8 inbound and advise Customs you will be parking on the Canadian apron. Proceed directly to Canada customs before entering the Garden. When returning to your aircraft you must stop at Canadian customs and advise of any purchases made before proceeding to the airport. Non-Canadians will require a passport and Canadians either a passport or a driver’s license with a birth certificate, or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status. Just as when driving to the Peace Garden, you are assumed to have entered the US when you are in the Garden. Please note that as of the writing of this article, vaccinated Canadians do not have to isolate when returning to Canada but the Canada ArriveCan app is still required to be completed for presentation to customs with your passport or other document.
The airport was built in 1965 to provide an aerial gateway to the Garden and the fabulous recreational areas of the Lake Metigoshe State Park and the Turtle Mountains of both Canada and the US. It is located on the North Dakota/Manitoba border 11 miles south of Boissevain, Manitoba. The asphalt runway is 3005 feet by 60 feet at an elevation of 2315 feet msl. There are no aviation services or fuel but tie downs are provided. Customs and immigration services are provided 24/7 for anyone wanting to cross the border. There is no charge for customs but there is a $20 charge per plane (subject to change) to enter the Garden or you can purchase an annual ticket that gives you access for the year.
The International Peace Garden, the reason for your flight, is just across the road. It is the only International Peace Garden situated on an international border. Spanning more than 2000 acres that bridge the border between Canada and the United States, there is much to see so plan on several hours to enjoy the tranquility, the beauty and the novelty of this incredible place. The aviators “$100 hamburger” is available at the newly renovated cafeteria in the Interpretive Centre. This year there will also be picnic lunches for sale for those who prefer to wander the garden and eat outside.
The Garden was built as “a memorial to the peace that has existed between the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada.” A statement to the world of the peace and cooperation that can exist across international borders. And not just any border but the longest land border in the world! It is built in the heart of the Turtle Mountains which served as a meeting place for the indigenous people of the region for centuries before.
Construction began in 1932 on land donated by both governments. Much of the work was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression with many of the structures still in place. It has been home to an International Music Camp since 1956 and the Legion Sports Camp from 1962- 2020. This year the Garden is celebrating its 90th birthday as well as the unveiling of $15,000,000 worth of upgrades, new buildings and the children’s playground area, thanks to the generosity of both Manitoba and North Dakota governments.
The most significant upgrade was to the Interpretive Centre itself. Home to what is likely the world’s largest indoor collection of over 6000 cacti, the centre was in dire need of renovation and expansion to ensure the safety and longevity of the cacti. This is a breathtaking collection to behold! These cacti were collected by Don Vitco who gifted this massive collection to the Garden in 2009. The story of the building of the collection and its journey to its new home this spring is well worth exploring.
Take time to stroll through the formal gardens that line the US/Canada border to the Peace Chapel at the western end. Stop to ponder the 9/11 memorial with steel girders from the original Towers. The Carillon Bells, on the north side, which chime every 15 minutes, contribute to the magic of this very special place of peace and tranquility.
As of this writing Covid rules are relaxing for vaccinated individuals. The completed ArriveCan app was still required when I last visited but there is no requirement to isolate for those vaccinated. Check the latest US/Canada border Covid regulations before entering, especially if you are unvaccinated.
Celebrate flying and the 90th celebration of the Garden, a visual representation of the peace and cooperation that can exist between two nations!