Sharon Temple
The Temple of the Children of Peace is located in the village of Sharon, Ontario. Generally it is known as the Sharon Temple. It was constructed between 1825 and 1831 by a schismatic Quaker sect led by David Willson on whose property it was built. It was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990. It is a square building with two upper levels of proportionally decreasing size that gives it a wedding cake look. The Temple represents architecturally their vision of a society based on the values of peace, equality, and social justice. Built in imitation of Solomon's Temple, it was used once a month to collect alms for the poor; two other meeting houses in the village of "Hope" (now Sharon) were used for regular Sunday worship. This "plain folk" of former Quakers led Canada's first farmers’ co-operative; built its first shelter for the homeless; created a credit union; and formed the first civilian band in the province. The leader of the sect was David Willson, who was born in New York State in 1778 and migrated to Canada in 1801. He joined the Quakers of which his wife was a member, but his ministry was rejected when he began to preach at the beginning of the War of 1812. His sect placed great emphasis on ceremony, music and practical education. Followers of the sect were strong political reformers and Willson played a critical role in the creation of the Canadian Alliance Society, the first political party in the province. Several members joined William Lyon Mackenzie in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion. They continued to play a key role in the development of democracy in Canada by ensuring the elections of both "fathers of responsible government," Robert Baldwin and Louis LaFontaine, in their riding in 1841 despite threats of political violence. After Willson's death in 1866 the sect slowly diminished. The last service was held in the Temple in 1889. The derelict Temple was purchased by the York Pioneer and Historical Society in 1917, and restored, making it one of the earliest examples of historic preservation in Canada. The temple is now a National Historic Site and museum as well as a National Peace Site. The site has a collection of restored buildings and displays pioneer artifacts and historic items related to the sect. The Ontario Heritage Trust (formerly Foundation) has a public easement to ensure its preservation meets conservation standards. The building is made available for public use such as tours, concerts, weddings, and special occasions by its current owner, the Sharon Temple Museum Society. The 2010 album "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" by Loreena McKennitt was recorded here in the summer of 2010. Ms. McKennitt remarked, "There is a fascinating interplay between architecture and sound, visually and sonically. The temple inspired us all." The site and grounds are kept busy and host numerous public and private events including the Words Alive Literary Festival.