York Pioneers and the Sharon Temple
Learn From Home Activity
Following the death of David Willson in 1866, the Children of Peace would begin a gradual decline and the group would ultimately hold its final meeting in the Sharon Temple in 1889.
The Sharon Temple would then sit empty and abandoned for nearly 30 years. During this time, the building would fall victim to peeling paint, cracked plaster, graffiti and broken windows.
In 1917, James L. Hughes, President of the York Pioneer and Historical Society negotiated the purchase of the Sharon Temple and three acres of land for $1500. For nearly a year, rumours circulated regarding its future use, with many believing it would soon become a museum. On Friday, August 2nd, 1918 the news was confirmed in the Newmarket Era.
Not only would news of the Temple's purchase be shared and the plan to convert the building to a museum for York County be included, but a work plan detailing the repairs was also noted. Hughes shared that the restoration cost would likely be the same as the purchase price and would be carried out over a six to seven week period under Toronto based architect E. J. Lennox. Lennox was responsible for designing over 70 buildings in Toronto including Old City Hall, Casa Loma and the Bank of Toronto.
The following week a letter from Hughes was published in the Newmarket Era requesting donations to the museum. He requested articles used on farms and in houses, implements of war including swords and uniforms. He also noted that "In the Historical Department there should be records of the founding of all the churches, and all the schools of York County; and also of Temperance Societies, and other organizations connected with the development of the County...Cases will be provided for the proper care of books, reports, minutes, documents, and all articles of historic interest that may be presented to the Society. Documents relating to the founders of the society that built the Temple will be of special value, and banners or other things connected with the services in the place of meeting, or with the ceremonials in the Temple will be gratefully accepted by the Trustees" (James L. Hughes pub. in Newmarket Era, Aug. 9, 1918).
The restorations on the Sharon Temple were officially complete by September of 1918 and the Temple was reopened with great fanfare on September 7, 1918, in line with the traditional Illumination. Upwards of 2000 guests were in attendance to see the newly renovated building which now held a collection of "home-made spinning wheels, forks, shovels, candle moulds, stable lanterns and such like..." (Newmarket Era, Sept. 13, 1918). Many of these original items still remain a part of our collection today.
The work of the York Pioneers to restore the Sharon Temple is also acknowledged on a plaque from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, which notes "[The Temple's] rescue from demolition in 1918 by the York Pioneer and Historical Society is an early example of historic conservation in Canada". The York Pioneers maintained the Site, historical buildings and the collection until 1991 when ownership and operations were passed to the Sharon Temple Museum Society.
Today, the Sharon Temple Museum Society continues to maintain the museum created by the York Pioneer and Historical Society, actively collecting, researching, exhibiting and finding new ways to promote the stories of the Sharon Temple, the Children of Peace and the community of Sharon.
Social Studies - Grade 1: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Our Changing Roles and Responsibilities (A2.2, A2.4, A3.2)
Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Changing Family and Community Traditions (A1.1, A2.2, A2.4, A3.7)
Language - Grade 1: Oral Communication (2.1, 2.4, 2.7); Writing (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 3.1); Media Literacy (1.3)
Language - Grade 2: Oral Communication (2.1, 2.4, 2.7); Writing (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.7); Media Literacy (1.3)
Language - Grade 3: Oral Communication (2.1, 2.4, 2.7); Writing (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.7); Media Literacy (1.3)
Language - Grade 4: Oral Communication (2.1, 2.4, 2.7); Writing (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.7); Media Literacy (1.3)
The Arts - Grade 1: Visual Arts (D1.3, D1.4, D2.1, D2.2, D3.1)
The Arts - Grade 2: Visual Arts (D1.2, D1.3, D1.4, D2.1, D2.2, D3.1)
The Arts - Grade 3: Visual Arts (D1.2, D1.3, D1.4, D2.1, D3.1)
Many museums choose to collect the items they do because of something called their "mandate". A mandate outlines their goals and criteria as well as topics they wish to share. At the Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum, our mandate is to collect and exhibit items relation to the Children of Peace and its members, the community of Sharon and the Sharon Temple.
By establishing a mandate and collection criteria, we are able to make sure that we collect items that can one day be shared and exhibited in our displays.
We want to see what you would include in an exhibit. Do you have a collection that is important to you that you'd like to share? Maybe you have some items that you can make connections between and display together.
Use our handy infographic to learn more about how exhibits are created. Follow the steps to create your own exhibit!
Once complete, make sure to share your exhibit with us by tagging us on social media @SharonTempleNHS and using #STLearnFromHome.
We also encourage you to share your exhibit with an audience - take photos to send or video call family and friends to present your display in a virtual exhibit opening!