On our way back from our annual September getaway to Muskoka we got off Hwy 400 just before coming to the Holland Marsh and took a detour along Canal Road. We eventually ended up in the small town of Sharon just outside of Newmarket.
Sharon is the site of what is now known as Sharon Temple, a uniquely quirky structure built in the early 1800s by a small religious sect called the Children of Peace. This group of former Quakers was led by a man called David Willson whose vision of society was “founded on the values of peace, equality and social justice.”
The Children of Peace also had an unusually fervent love of music along with an appreciation of artistic expression and symbolism. You can see this reflected in the construction of Sharon Temple. For more information you can consult the official Sharon Temple website.
I first visited Sharon shortly after graduating from WLU (then, Waterloo Lutheran University). During my first few years at WLU I sang in the university choir (under director Walter Kemp) and during one of those years the choir premiered a piece of contemporary music written by John Beckwith called “Sharon Fragments”. That was way back in 1966 or 1967 (not sure which).
In 1981 John Beckwith was also involved in establishing the Music at Sharon festival, a summer concert series featuring different classical music themes. After a lapse of 15 years or so, Music at Sharon was revived in 2007 under the leadership of Larry Beckwith and Rick Phillips.