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Temple Trees

Learn From Home Activity

Background Information

Aside from the various heritage buildings at the Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum, the grounds also remain one of the most important elements of the property. They are accented by our accessible and heritage gardens as well as natural brush and robust maple trees which create an aisle leading from the fence line at Leslie Street to the door on the east side of the Temple. 

The maples are not only visually appealing, adding colour to the Site, but provide a habitat for birds, insects and small animals that call the Site home. 

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Many of the maple trees that now dot the landscape of the Sharon Temple's grounds were planted by the York Pioneer and Historical Society, the original stewards of the Sharon Temple. In 1917 the York Pioneers purchased the Temple for $1500.00 and overtime brought other buildings like the Doan House and out buildings, Log Cabin, Cookhouse and Study to the Site. One of their most important initiatives was restoring the Temple, which has been seen as an early model for historic preservation and establishing the York County Museum. 

As time progressed, the group began planting trees around the property. A list of trees planted as Memorial Trees includes the name of individuals and events for which trees were planted by the York Pioneer and Historical Society.

  • David Willson

  • Sir William Mulock

  • James L. Hughes

  • Hon. E.C. Drury

  • The Jubilee of King George V

  • Julia Montgomery Sheppard (known as Mrs. O.B. Sheppard)

  • Colonel R.L. Denison

  • Hon. W. Robinson

  • Rev. James Richardson, D.D.

  • Rev. Saltern Givens

  • William Gooderham

  • Rev. Henry Scadding, D.D.

  • Rev. C.E. Thomson

  • William Rennie

  • Daniel Lamb

  • William Crocker

  • Levi E. Annis

  • David S. Keys

  • Dr. Emerson Bull

This list includes a number of individuals who had served as the President of the York Pioneers, as well as James L. Hughes, the President responsible for the raising of funds to purchase the Temple. Not surprisingly, the list also includes David Willson, who had been the leader of the Children of Peace and the visionary behind the Temple. A memorial tree also acknowledges Julia Montgomery, known as Mrs. O.B. Sheppard, who in her own right was the granddaughter of the owner of Montgomery's Tavern, the site of a battle during the 1837 Rebellion. Additionally, she was born in Sharon and had been honoured as being the first woman permitted membership to the York Pioneer and Historical Society.


The choice to plant maple trees should come as no surprise. While the Canadian Flag did not adopt the maple leaf until February 15, 1965 and the maple tree was not originally recognized as Canada's arboreal emblem until 1996, the maple leaf itself has been incorporated as an unofficial symbol of Canada since the 1700s. 

Of the ten species of maple trees found in Canada including sugar, black, silver, bigleaf, red, mountain, striped, Douglas, vine and Manitoba maples, a variety can be found on our Site.

The maple leaf and its tree continue to act as symbols of Canada. This occurs in visual contexts through the inclusion of the maple leaf on both military and sport uniforms, incorporated into logos for businesses and clothing, taking centre stage on our national flag, and being referenced within songs and poems. In addition to the visual symbols, the maple tree also acts as a reminder of Canada's role as a world leader in the sustainable management of forests, namely through the contribution of wood products and the prominence of the maple sugar industry. 

While the York Pioneers may not have made the connection between a national symbol like the maple leaf and a national symbol of democracy found in the Sharon Temple, their early action of memorial tree planting provided yet another element to our Site establishing a link between cultural heritage and the natural environment.


Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Changing Family and Community Traditions (A2.1, A2.5, A2.6, A3.4, A3.5, A3.6)

Social Studies - Grade 6: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, Past and Present (A1.1, A2.4, A3.10)

Language - Grade 2: Media Literacy (1.2, 2.1)

Language - Grade 3: Media Literacy (1.2, 2.1)

Language - Grade 4: Media Literacy (1.2, 2.1)

The Arts - Grade 1: Visual Arts (D1.2, D1.3, D2.3)

The Arts - Grade 2: Visual Arts (D1.1, D1.2)

The Arts - Grade 3: Visual Arts (D1.1, D1.2)


When we think of Canada we are able to immediately recall symbols that remind us of our home and native land like the maple leaf, beaver, hockey or lacrosse sticks, Tim Horton's or poutine. Do you think of any other symbols?

What symbols do you think of when you think of yourself? Maybe flags that represent your heritage or items in your favourite colour, something associated with your pet or favourite animal, maybe a meaningful movie, book or song or your favourite food or flower?


We want to see what represents YOU! Draw your own collage or cut and paste a collage using the symbols that show us a little bit about you. Look in magazines, flyers or newspapers for inspiration, or if you're able to, create a digital collage using photos online. Once complete, share your "Symbols of Me" project with us by tagging us on social media @SharonTempleNHS and using #STLearnFromHome. 

We've also included a bonus colouring sheet of the Temple with our favourite leaf! Download, colour and share your work with us on social media!

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