York Urbanist

1 SHARON TEMPLE – Iconic Buildings of York Region

December 30th, 2011

“The temple of the Children of Peace at Sharon is an architectural masterpiece expressing in dramatic form the ideas of David Willson, a charismatic religious leader in early 19th century Upper Canada. The architectural elements of the Temple combine to express a singular religious vision of the most striking beauty. Its three tiers, its four-fold symmetry, its lanterns, and its pinnacles all take their inspirations from the Bible. Jacob’s Ladder, a gently curved staircase, leads to the musicians’ gallery above. Its three stories represent the Trinity. The four central pillars even bear names: Faith, Hope, Love, and Charity. Known for their pageantry, the Children of Peace combined unique architecture with distinctive artistic works and unparalleled musical tradition.”

This starkly beautiful white structure is abound in history.  So precious is the building that it has been maintained and/or restored over its proud past and is now a National Historic Site.  Its purpose was served and today expresses a story that is Sharon, a village within East Gwillimbury.  East Gwillimbury is no household name, at least to Torontonians.  But the Sharon Temple will be well-known to those in the architectural, theological and historical communities. No other structure or land expresses the municipality as well. When attempts are made to direct an inquirer to East Gwillimbury, inevitably the Sharon Temple is part of the explanation.  This building uniquely defines the municipality more than any other in York Region.

Born at a time when the church was the prime mover of urban and architectural form, the edifice remains current and a landmark today.  It was so important that the municipal offices were built adjacent to it.  It was so iconic that a former mayor insisted that he must be able to see it from his office, so trees were removed to afford the view. The architects of the municipal offices honoured the Sharon Temple by understating their façade and setting the façade in line with that of the Sharon Temple.


Iconic Rating – 10 out of 10

Desirability – 10 out of 10

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