In the Upper Canada of the 1820s, in the Village of Sharon, a small community known as the Children of Peace crafted, with simple tools but consummate skill and artistry, a dramatic architectural testament to its vision of a society founded on the values of peace, equality and social justice.
This plain folk of former Quakers led the country’s first farmers’ co-operative, built its first shelter for the homeless, and played a key role in the development of democracy by ensuring the elections of William Lyon Mackenzie, and both fathers of responsible government – Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine – in the formative years before Canadian confederation.
The center piece of their activity was The Temple. Completed in 1832 and restored in 2011, it is now part of the Sharon National Historic Site, which encompasses nine historic buildings in a park like setting.
The architectural elements of the Temple combine to express a singular vision of the most striking beauty. Its three tiers, four-fold symmetry, lanterns and pinnacles were inspired by the old testament from the Bible. Jacob’s Ladder, a gently curved staircase, leads to the musicians’ gallery above. The four central pillars even bear names: Faith, Hope, Love and Charity.
Known for their pageantry, the Children of Peace integrated a unique social vision with distinctive artistic and architectural works and an unparalleled musical tradition: they formed the first civilian band in Canada and commissioned the first organ built in Ontario.
Other buildings on the site include David Willson’s Study of 1829 (leader of the local settlers) which is a smaller architectural gem. The Ebenezer Doan house of 1819, constructed by the Temple’s master-builder and relocated from the former Doan family farm nearby, has been restored in an early garden setting. You will see the "cook house" were communal meals were created and served, the "drive shed' complete with period carriages and do not miss another of David Willson’s architectural curiosities – the round outhouse.