Monument Park

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Review

Photo Credit: Bud Hardwick
Monument Park offers an easy drive-up visit to a large historic stone monument marking the establishment of the international border between the U.S. and Canada. From its grassy lawn, depending on the lushness of seasonal hillside vegetation, busy ferry and cargo traffic from the nearby Tsawwassen Terminal can be observed with the wide expanse of the Strait of Georgia, and the more distant Gulf Islands forming a picturesque backdrop. A short pleasant trail leads south through a dense forest of ancient trees with an optional very steep descent to the beach.

Begin your visit to the monument at the border crossing into Point Roberts. To the right, immediately after passing through the guard station, notice a large vertical plaque with a small parking lot behind it. The interpretive sign describes the treaty of 1846 and how the joint boundary commissions of both countries worked together to finally resolve the long ongoing border dispute between Great Britain and the U.S. (A final “bump” in the peaceful establishment of the border was the 1859 incident known as the Pig War, see San Juan Island National Historic Park, at this website’s San Juan Islands location.)

The modern border crossing facilities effectively cut Roosevelt Way in half so you’ll have to do a small drive-around to get back onto it. Proceed south on Tyee Drive from the border and make your first right turn (Mckenzie Way) go straight for a short distance and make a right onto Delano Way (the theme to these street names is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt). At the “T” intersection, turn left onto Roosevelt Way. If there’s no traffic behind you try to go extra slow. Have your passengers look out of their right-side windows as you parallel the border by only a few feet. As you pass the nearly continuous line of residences on the Canadian side of the border, look closely at the backyards. Among horseshoe pitches, lawns, decorative hedges, flower gardens and vegetable patches look for a distinctive obelisk about four or five feet high. It’ll look like a miniature of our national treasure the Washington Monument. There’s a line of them marking the border in this area so don’t quit after seeing just one.

The road ends in the parking lot for the monument at its intersection with Marine Drive (which leads south directly toward Lighthouse Marine Park). Walk out onto the small grassy lawn surrounding the monument. Quarried in Scotland and transported by wooden sailing ship, it’s pitted and gray surface shows its age but adds to its historic patina. An interpretive sign provides not only historical dates but also describes how the park was restored in modern times by organizations of both countries; a tribute to its statement that the border between the U.S. and Canada is the longest undefended border in the world.

A short level trail leads south into the forest, high above but parallel to the nearby shoreline. Distant views are rare even in winter but the large ancient trees form an attractive dense canopy with more visibility in the forest and down-slope than you might expect. At this trail’s end another trail, steep and occasionally slippery twists and turns down a gully as it traverses onto the beach. Glacial erratics, wading shorebirds and expansive beach views are the reward. The steep bluff behind the beach indicates caution for extended beach walks. The rising tide can shrink the walk-able beach to nothing so keep this in mind if going very far from the beachside trailhead.

Numerous herons can usually be seen doing their characteristic wading but on this beach the quiet observer can sometimes see them performing more unusual displays related to their courtship and nesting interactions. Located nearby has been one of the largest heron rookeries in the world. Herons prefer to nest closely together in forests of large trees. Habitat loss has impacted them here as elsewhere but with more land set aside locally as park and preserve it is hoped that their numbers will increase. Mornings provide the best lighting for observation with the sun behind you. Colors of bird plumage and beach details can be brilliant and easy to photograph. Later in the day and into evening the sunsets can be spectacular but you’ll be looking into the light.

While tempting to wander further north onto the Canadian side of the border it is best not to complicate an otherwise enjoyable trip. Small but pleasant; Monument Park offers a variety of experiences. While no services are available, it makes an ideal stop on a longer tour of Point Robert’s other unique locations.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 5/23/2011

Directions

Please note that the Point Roberts roundtrip requires crossing the international border four times. Proper identification is required and for children not accompanied by their parents additional documentation may be required. For driving directions please refer to Lily Point and Lighthouse Marine Park articles (this website). Monument Park is located in the extreme northwest corner of Pt. Roberts at the intersection of Marine Drive and Roosevelt Way (some maps label Roosevelt Way as Marine Drive). The few minutes’ drive from the border to the park is part of the visiting experience; please refer to this article for details.

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