History of the Sharon Temple
The Sharon Temple was constructed by the Children of Peace - an Upper Canada Quaker sect - from 1825 - 1831. The Temple is an architectural symbol of their vision of a society based on the values of peace, equality, and social justice. It opened as a museum in 1918 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1990 due to its historical and architectural significance. The acquisition and restoration of the Temple by the York Pioneers and Historical Society in 1917 was one of Canada's first examples of historic preservation.
Under the leadership of David Willson, the Children of Peace established a cooperative economy, founding Ontario's first credit union and a land-sharing system that helped make Hope (now Sharon) one of the most prosperous farming communities of their time. They helped to establish the first farmers' cooperative - the Farmers' Storehouse - which collectively marketed wheat and lent money to local farmers in need. Caring and charitable, they also built the province's first homeless shelter.
Their commitment to political and social justice led the Children of Peace to champion the political reform movement of the 1830s and find an important place in the development of Canadian democracy. They supported William Lyon Mackenzie's politics and frequently appeared either by mention or their own pen in his newspaper, where they stood in firm opposition to the Family Compact. After the Rebellions of 1837 and 1838, they campaigned for the elections of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine - both of whom would later become known as the "Fathers of Responsible Government" in Canada.
The Children of Peace cultivated music wholeheartedly both inside and outside of the Temple, recognizing its educational and community-building value. They created the first civilian band in Canada and housed many of Ontario's earliest organs.
Although they never numbered more than 350 members, Reform politician and Rebellion leader William Lyon Mackenzie once noted: "They afford ample proofs, both in their village and in their chapels, that comparatively, great achievements may be accomplished by a few when united in their efforts and persevering in their habits."
The Sharon Temple is now operated as a Museum by the Sharon Temple