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Learn From Home Activity

Background Information

The annual Illumination of the Sharon Temple remains one of our most popular events. It's an opportunity to see the Temple fully illuminated with beeswax candles lighting the entire first storey while being treated to musical entertainment and experiencing the space as it was meant to be enjoyed. Historically held on the first Friday of September each year, the Illumination directly preceded the Feasts of the First Fruits, which would celebrate success of the community's harvest on the first Saturday of September. 

With the first Illumination documented to have taken place in 1831, this celebration would also focus on the charitable side of the Children of Peace with members holding an almsgiving service. 

The Illumination was also used for political purposes. As a campaign manager, David Willson timed election rallies for Members of Parliament Robert Baldwin and Louis La Fontaine to coincide with the Illumination and Feasts in 1843. The powerful speeches delivered by these individuals would have certainly further enhanced this remarkable event. 

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As we learned in our Feasts program, the menu in September would include a piece of apple pie or cake for each attendee. The inclusion of apple should come as no surprise. The 1851 Census accounted for the production of 657 gallons of apple cider. Based on 1 bushel of apples producing 3.5 gallons of cider, this would mean that approximately 188 bushels of apples were grown in 1851. This would also mean that approximately 23,463 apples were cultivated that year for cider alone. From this information it becomes clear that East Gwillimbury was home to farms with well established orchards and the inclusion of apples in the Temple's annual Illumination meal would be an excellent way to use up community resources. 

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Along with apples, the account books from Charles Doan's General Store includes entries that reveal a number of additional ingredients needed to create the Illumination Cake in 1837. These purchases were all charged to an account called "Feast". Members purchased a quarter pound of 'spice', one and a quarter pounds of loaf sugar, 5 lb sugar (possibly brown or maple sugar), four pounds of butter and two dozen eggs (McIntyre, Children of Peace 1994, 117).

Overtime we have managed to perfect this recipe and still serve it at our annual Illumination. Along with the music and enjoying the lit beeswax candles, we believe it's one of the best parts of the Illumination tradition!

Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Grade 1: Strand B. People and Environments: The Local Community (B1.1, B2.6)

Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Changing Family and Community Traditions (A1.1, A1.3, A2.6, A3.2, A3.4, A3.6, A3.7); Strand B. People and Environments: Global Communities (B1.3, B2.1, B3.6)

Social Studies - Grade 3: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, 1780-1850 (A3.2, A3.3); Strand B. People and Environments: Living and Working in Ontario (B1.1, B3.5)

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 1: Understanding Earth and Space Systems: Daily and Seasonal Changes (1.1)

Science and Technology - Grade 3: Understanding Life Systems: Growth and Change in Plants (2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 3.3, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8)

Science and Technology - Grade 4: Understanding Life Systems: Habitats and Communities (1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 3.10)

Science and Technology - Grade 5: Understanding Matter and Energy: Properties of and Changes in Matter (3.5)

Science and Technology - Grade 6: Understanding Life Systems: Biodiversity (1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 3.4)


Members of the Children of Peace prepared food that would feed hundreds. They used staple items like flour, sugar, butter, eggs and most importantly, apples to create this special annual dessert. 

We won't ask you to serve a feast, but wanted to give you our special Illumination Cake recipe to try making it yourself at home. 

With the help of an adult, gather your ingredients and follow the simple instructions to create your own apple cake.

This recipe yields enough to make two cakes - share them with your family and enjoy a delicious treat! Share your creation using #STLearnFromHome. 

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