Feasts in Sharon
Learn From Home Activity
Beginning in 1818, the Children of Peace began holding feasts that included both members and non-members, further underlining their commitment to inclusion and community. These feasts were held twice a year, once on the first Saturday in June to celebrate David Willson's birthday and the other on the first Saturday in September following the Illumination, known as the Feast of the First Fruits. The feasts were held in the open air until 1835 when they were moved inside of the Second Meeting House.
As an early settler community the Village of Hope (now Sharon) used feasts as celebratory activities. Women in the community were responsible for cooking the meals and would spend days preparing foods that were then served from the Cookhouse.
Feasts were also seen as symbols of prosperity, plenty and unity. The prosperity, or success of the community would determine the menu for these feasts. This would depend on two factors, first, the growth and longevity of the Children of Peace, and second, the weather conditions and success of farming for the year.
Ethel Willson Trewhella wrote about the Children of Peace Feasts in her twelfth installment in the "Story of Sharon" dated August 30, 1951, detailing the meals and the Meeting House. "The long tables were set, - each plate contained a square piece of Pound, or Feast Cake and a good-sized piece of green currant pie in June or apple at the September Feast. In front of the diners were platters of roast meat, plates of cheese and plenty of hop-rising bread and butter [...] The cups, deep and handleless, were filled with tea. Plates were set for 365 people, to be refilled as they came. As many as a thousand have sat down to this famous Feast."
Each attendee was charged 25 cents for an all you can eat feast and entertainment was provided by the Sharon Silver Band. As these events became more popular and communities grew, the feasts of the Children of Peace attracted more than 500 people to the Village. In June of 1857 refreshments ran out and tickets had to be refunded.
Social Studies - Grade 3: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, 1780-1850 (A1.2, A2.5, A2.6, A3.3)
Social Studies - Grade 6: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, Past and Present (A3.3, A3.4)
Mathematics - Grade 3 & 4: Measurement - Attributes, Units and Measurement Sense; Measurement Relationships
Language - Grade 2 & 3: 1. Reading for Meaning (1.2, 1.4, 1.7), 2. Understanding Form and Style (2.2)
Science and Technology - Grade 5: Understanding Matter and Energy - Properties of and Changes in Matter (1.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 3.5)
The early settlers of East Gwillimbury and the Village of Sharon were successful farmers who yielded 50,000 bushels of wheat in 1849. Wheat was then milled into flour which would then be used to create bread - a staple in homes and at the Feasts!
With adult supervision, use a favourite family recipe or this recipe for Heritage Bread (adapted from Chef Michael Smith) to create your own!
3 cup white flour
1 cup heritage Red Fife flour or any whole wheat flour
½ cup multigrain mix or any oatmeal
2 tsp salt
½ heaping teaspoon yeast
2 ¼ cup warm water
1. Whisk together the flours, multigrain mix, salt and yeast, evenly distributing the finer powders amongst the coarse ones. Add the warm water. Vigorously stir together the dough with the handle end of a wooden spoon, as the dough forms and until all the bottom flour is gathered up and a full dough forms. Cover and rest the dough for 12 hours.
2. Knock down the dough, sprinkle with a light dusting of any flour and form into a loose ball. Transfer it to a lightly oiled loaf pan or rest it on a baking mat as it rises again and the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.
3. Preheat your oven to 400ºF and turn on your convection fan if you have one.
4. Bake the bread until deep golden brown and crusty, 40 minutes or so. Cool, slice and share.
5. Before eating it all up, be sure to take a photo and share with us using #STLearnFromHome!