The Shrine Peace Memorial is located in the Rose Garden on the south side of Exhibition Place in Toronto. The monument symbolizes the now two centuries of peace between Canada and the United States. It was presented to the people of Canada by the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, known today as Shriners International.
The Angel of Peace
American sculptor Charles Keck designed the Shrine Peace Memorial. It features a bronze figure and a white granite semi-circular bench set on a stone base.
The Angel of Peace, also known as the Goddess of Peace, is a winged figure standing tall on a globe of the world supported by three sphinxes (a symbol of the governing body of the Shriners). Her arms are upraised, and she holds two olive branches (the symbol of peace). The bench that arcs around the figure says, “peace be on you” and the returning wish, “on you be the peace.” This is the English translation of the salutation between two Shriners.
The Memorial faces towards the United States, which is south-southwest.
The Presentation Ceremony
On June 12, 1930, the presentation of this beautiful monument took place at the closing of the Shriners 56th annual convention. It was the grand finale of the organization’s four-day “whoopee” in Toronto.
For the unveiling and to accommodate the volume of spectators, a special area was set up about half a kilometre from where the monument is situated. A replica of the statue was created for the Shriners reviewing stand. Bleachers stretching a mile on Lake Shore Blvd W were filled with over 100,000 people.
Before the ceremony, there was a huge parade. Thousands of Shriners in their bright and varied uniforms, along with Shriners bands with 2,500 instruments, were separated into two divisions – one at The Princes’ Gates and the other at Dufferin Gate. They proceeded to march towards the ceremony taking place on Lake Shore Blvd W. During the parade, boys were shouting, “peanuts and popcorn!” Planes flew a mere 15 m over the crowds, a parachute drop displayed the flags of the nations, and the Good Year blimp roared overhead.
Speeches from dignitaries, the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada (speaking from Ottawa) and the message of goodwill were carried out through amplifiers in the crowds and also to millions of listeners through the relatively new marvel of radio.
Did You Know?
In 1931, floodlights were added to the Memorial. The beacon represents the great sacrifices made by Canadians in the interest of peace.
In 1958, the Toronto Parks Department ringed the monument with a large fountain and beautiful gardens. Two smaller fountains were also added on each side. The Memorial was rededicated to the cause of peace by the Right Honourable John C Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada.
Between 1959 and 1960, $10,000 in coins were tossed into the fountain. The funds were donated to charity.
On July 4, 1989, the monument was once again dedicated during a Shriners convention.
The Shrine Peace Memorial received heritage status from the city in 1993.
Who are the Shriners?
They are a fraternal organization based on fun, fellowship and philanthropy. The Masonic society was founded in New York City in 1870 and was originally known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The fraternity’s symbols are based on an Arabian theme, including their most recognizable symbol, the fez. In 1922, they established the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and the organization continues to support it. Now known as Shriners International, there are over 300,000 members worldwide.