Building the Sharon Temple

Learn From Home Activity

Background Information

The Sharon Temple was built between 1825 and 1831 and was officially completed with the addition of the central Ark in 1832. This seven year building period was part of David Willson's vision for the construction of a building that would be used by the Children of Peace in their meetings and charitable work. 

While David Willson himself was also known as a skilled craftsman, he ultimately enstrusted the overseeing of construction of the Temple to Ebenezer Doan. Doan was an early follower of the Children of Peace and has since become widely known for his legacy as the Master Builder of the Temple.

In the years following the completion of the project, no construction drawings have been found. Instead, David Willson's poem "The Lord's Celebration" from 1822 provides readers with a building template outlining the colours to be used in the Temple's painting, its size, the length of time to build, number of columns and windows and more. This poem essentially outlines the vision, which many researchers have linked to being inspired by the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. 

When construction began, it also depended on the schedules of the builders. Together with David Willson and John and Ebenezer Doan, many members of the Children of Peace became known as "builders of the Temple". This element of community only further served to underline the core values of the sect. As many of these "builders" were primarily farmers, much of the work to construct the Temple took place in the winter when they weren't as busy at their farms. Additionally, the frozen ground made it easier to transport many of the trees and shaped logs that would be used in the Temple's construction. 

The Temple was constructed using a timber frame and held together by pegged mortise and tenon joints. Many rumours exist suggesting that there were no nails used in the construction of the Temple. This is simply untrue and thousands of nails were used in the creation of the frame, walls, columns, windows and decorative elements. 

In many ways, the construction is similar to that of a heavy timber barn, something which many of the farmers would also be familiar with. This meant that they did not necessarily have to be craftsmen in order to contribute to the construction of the Temple. The construction also took place in parts, with much of the construction taking place off-Site and then being brought to and joined in place. 

While not much has remained that detailed the day-to-day building activities, Rachel Syllindia Willson, the great-grand-niece of David Willson explained that "the Temple had been built in sections...The sections were built on surrounding farms with sons and neighbours assisting in the work. When all was completed a great "bee" was held, with the people coming from far and near" (qtd. in McIntyre, Children of Peace 1994, 69). These bees or work gatherings not only promoted a sense of community within the village, but further strengthened the charity and desire for betterment of the community outlined by the Children of Peace.

Appropriately suggested by Mark Fram and Albert Schrauwers, "It is impossible to say which is more important - the design or the execution, the mind or the hand" (4Square 2005, 28). While no longer used by the Children of Peace, the Temple remains an unmistakable structure often acknowledged for its architectural beauty and merits of craftsmanship.

Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Grade 1: Strand B. People and Environments: The Local Community (B1.1, B3.1, B3.2, B3.7)

Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand A. Heritage & Identity: Changing Family and Community Traditions (A1.3, A2.2, A2.6, A3.2)

Social Studies - Grade 3: Strand A. Heritage & Identity: Communities in Canada, 1780-1850 (A1.1, A1.2, A2.2, A2.5, A2.6, A3.2, A3.3)

Science and Technology - Grade 1: Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: Material, Objects and Everyday Structures (2.4, 3.2, 3.5)

Science and Technology - Grade 3: Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: Strong and Stable Structures (1.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.10)

Science and Technology - Grade 4: Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: Pulleys and Gears (3.6)

Science and Technology - Grade 5: Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: Forces Acting on Structures and Mechanisms (2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 3.1, 3.2)

Mathematics - Grade 1 to Grade 5: Measurement; Geometry and Spatial Sense

The Arts - Grade 1 to Grade 5: Visual Arts - D1: Creating and Presenting (D1.1)

Activity

The Sharon Temple has served as the inspiration for countless reinterpretations. From paintings, drawings, cakes and dioramas, we think we've seen it all. 

Do you have a different version in mind? Use supplies around your house, draw a photo, create a sculpture, use your computer skills or maybe bake your own cake in the style of the Sharon Temple.

Share your ingenuity and creativity by tagging us on social media @SharonTempleNHS and using #STLearnFromHome to have your work featured!

© Sharon Temple Museum Society

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905-478-2389

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18974 Leslie Street, Sharon, ON L0G 1V0