a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Oct, 2017

Is Lester B. Pearson Peace Park worth visiting? Well…

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

I’ve been driving up and down Highway 7 on a regular basis for many years. My mother lives down that way, in a small blink-and-you’ll-miss it kind of town. I’ve been in Ottawa since the mid-90s so I’ve gotten to know this stretch of road quite well over the years. It’s a quietly scenic drive in its own understated kind of way. Much of it is forest and farmland, with parts of the road cut through rock and within view of lakes, rivers, obvious beaver-shaped geography. There are roadside death memorials, blueberry stands in the summer, and the odd historical marker.

I have a driving routine that includes a stop in Perth for coffee and gas. Amid a handful of the usual fast food options, it’s comforting to know there’s a shwarma place in Carleton Place that never disappoints.

As I drive I watch the scenery go by (safely, out of my peripheral vision of course) and I always think how cool it would be to ride this stretch of Highway 7 on a bike so I can answer some of the questions I have. Like, what’s in Arden? And what’s with that taxidermy place? Maybe someday I’ll figure out the logistics and make a multi-day wander out of it.

(Sidebar: Speaking of Arden, I recently learned about the documentary mentioned in this older article. And it’s available for viewing online! So now I know what’s in Arden.)

A few weeks ago, Mark and I stopped by the studio of an Ottawa photographer named Paul Wing. It was during the West End Studio Tour and since both Mark and I know Paul, we lingered and had a wee chat. At one point Mark spotted a photo of a strange looking building that was on display. Paul told us it was taken at the Lester B. Pearson Peace Park along Highway 7 between Madoc and Tweed.

Coincidentally, Lester B. Pearson Peace Park was one of the many things we have driven by a thousand times and had questions about, so Mark and I decided to check it out while en route to my mother’s place last weekend.

For some backstory, you can read more about this park on this site, which shows a map of what it looked like in its heyday. Let me say right off the bat that I disagree with the statement that is is a “welcoming site for those who wish to stop, relax and nourish their own inner peace.” I am certain there are other places where our inner peace can be nourished, even though we ARE talking about Highway 7 here.

Lester B. Pearson Peace Park is located right off Highway 7. The address is 108087 ON-7, Tweed, ON. (Here’s a link to a Google Map.) I wish I had thought to grab a photo of the entrance, but it kind of sneaks up on ya. We turned on to a very narrow country road:

Turn off to Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

I have to say, I was already a little bit creeped out at this point, which is weird, because I tend to embrace these kinds of wild spaces and rush into them headfirst, with no fear and without much concern. You know me, I love a good nature trail and picnic in the park!

As we pulled in, it occurred to me that NO ONE knew where we were so I posted a Facebook update regarding our whereabouts. (I could see the headlines: “MARRIED COUPLE DISAPPEARS WITHOUT A TRACE ALONG HIGHWAY SEVEN”)

We drove up a short hill and parked on the left, not really knowing where to go. On the right, is an open area with a few picnic benches. Here’s one view:

Picnic area at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

It’s hard to see, but there’s a white blob near the top of the photo. We’ll get to that in a bit. On the other side of the benches is a sculpture called “Hands around the World.” It’s a white sphere with two hands encircling it. It reminded me of Humpty Dumpty. (I placed Mark in there for scale.)

"Hands around the World" at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Even though this place is right next to a very busy highway, it is remarkably quiet, and the isolated feeling just kept closing in on me. Mark went to get something out of the car so I decided to stretch my legs and walk up the grassy hill toward that white building. Hmm, interesting.

The main shrine, at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Close up of the memorial at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

From this view, it was fairly nondescript. I did notice this column, semi-hidden in the trees right beside it and thought it provided a bit of a hint as to what this white building might be about (spoiler alert: it’s a “Peace Pagoda Shrine”):

Memorial dedication, Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

I walked up the steps of the building and walked around to the other side. Oh, would you look at that, it’s a door:

Doorway to the INSIDE of the memorial

Sign on the door, Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

The door was open, so, I talked myself into taking a look inside. It was not pleasant. In fact, I was worried I’d find someone in there:

Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Look up, Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Inside the shrine at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

The creepiest part by far was this altar. I tried not to envision anything scary that could have happened here:


I was not feeling very safe or comfortable, so I closed the door and went back to the picnic area, thanking my lucky stars that the car was still there and that Mark hadn’t been abducted. But that wasn’t the end of the creepiness to be found at this place. No sir.

Here’s a couple of innocuous-looking buildings, right?

Fairly innocuous? At Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

A closeup of the newer looking one:

I should have knocked to see if there are any Mothers inside.

Should I have knocked to see if anyone’s mother was being held captive inside? The reason I ask, is because this is what was inside the smaller of the two buildings (which was apparently a snack bar in its former lifetime):

Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Inside the shack at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Inside the shack at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Then, on the other side of a thin wall:

Inside the shack at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Inside the shack, at Lester B. Pearson Peace Park

Someone used to live here. I honestly wondered if we’d find a body.
It’s hard to tell in the second photo, but that’s a table with an electric frying pan, a toaster, and stacks of dishes. The bed was torn apart. Garbage was everywhere. It was utterly decrepit.

That’s about the time Mark suggested we check out the nature trail, a short stroll through the woods around this central area. Someone is still maintaining it, that much was clear, but I could not shake the scary feeling that was ALL AROUND ME.

Thankfully, the walk was brief (I may have walked a little faster) and we climbed back into our car and I updated my Facebook status to let my friends and family know that we were not dead. We hightailed it out of there. I can honestly say I am glad my curiosity has been satisfied but I will never go back.

10 Responses to "Is Lester B. Pearson Peace Park worth visiting? Well…"

1 | Timbut

October 9th, 2017 at 3:47 pm


Lol. Best ever review of a creepy place. Perfect pairing for that weird/sad hwy 7 documentary.

2 | Barb Sohn

October 10th, 2017 at 6:07 am


Yes – always wondered about this place. I do know that in 1967, there were some kind of Celebrate Canada’s centennial grants, and I think this was a project that was created through those grants. it was also a campground for a while.

4 | andrea tomkins

October 10th, 2017 at 10:39 am


Highway seven is a treasure trove of interesting stuff!
Bob: I read that! Quite detailed… and you’re right, this place is a shadow of its former self.

For the record, Mark says he wasn’t creeped out half as much as I was. You can interpret that however you like. :)

5 | Claudette

October 10th, 2017 at 10:52 am


Weird and creepy! The pictures are great, gives me an eerie feeling just looking at them.

6 | Jim Burns

November 27th, 2018 at 1:09 pm


Sorry that you felt “creeped out?’. Of Course you know the park was closed when you visited. Please visit when it is maintained during July and August. I think you will see it’s beauty.
A body? Really??

7 | andrea tomkins

November 27th, 2018 at 1:49 pm


Sorry Jim, but it was certainly an off-putting experience. And at no point was it clear that the park was closed.

8 | Bonnie Upton

May 21st, 2020 at 10:40 pm


I have a true love of this place. I drive to and from Ottawa from the NewmArket area to visit my sister snd now my son who attended uOttawa and has chosen to stay. I stopped here one trip home from picking up my son from university. We fell in love with the quirky beauty. We walked around and loved seeing the unique buildings. We are meeting there this Saturday. I am a public health worker and decided a few months ago to bring my dog to Ottawa as I work 12 hour days Since this pandemic has started. Months later I need my boys home. Both dog and son. We plan on meeting here and having a picnic and then me and my son And my dog will drive back to my home and my sister will head back to Ottawa. Thanks for maintaining this place Jim. It’s a treasure.

9 | andrea tomkins

May 24th, 2020 at 10:34 am


I’m glad you find it restful Bonnie! I didn’t on that day. :)

10 | Ted Benkhe

May 28th, 2020 at 5:58 pm


Jim Burns made a great point re visitation.

I,m sure that the peace park will present very well after the volunteers who maintain it have worked their magic.
As a veteran and former peacekeeper in Cyprus I commend their efforts to honour our fallen in such a patriotic way.
best wishes.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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