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TORONTO TEMPLE NEARS COMPLETION

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The glistening spire of eastern Canada's first temple has been erected, and excitement is mounting among members in the surrounding temple district as the edifice's public open house and dedication dates draw near.

The final finishing touches are being completed on schedule at the Toronto Ontario Temple despite difficulties with a labor strike that idled construction workers for the past six weeks.The strike was resolved the first week in July, about three weeks before the open house but in time for the final work to be completed, said C. Malcolm Warner, vice chairman of the temple open house and dedication committee, and a regional representative.

The temple will open to the public on Aug. 2 and remain open through Aug. 18 except on Sundays. After being closed briefly for cleaning, the temple will be dedicated in 11 sessions, Aug. 25-27. The traditional cornerstone ceremony will precede the first dedicatory session on Aug. 25.

Elder Warner said that preparations for the open house and dedication are moving forward in high gear.

"We have approximately 2,000 volunteers who will be involved in the open house. They come from all areas of the temple district, from as far away as the Maritime provinces and the Montpelier Vermont Stake.

"Their response has been very gratifying."

Members are also preparing for the open house by distributing personal invitations to their friends and neighbors. Public announcements of the open house will begin shortly on radio and in newspapers. The announcements and publicity are being prepared by Richard R. Robertson, Canada public communications director, and members of the Church Public Communications Department. Pres. Sidney A. Smith of the Canada Toronto Mission is helping plan the missionary effort connected with the open house.

Elder Warner said that problems have been very minimal. "We have very positive neighbors. And the mayor and the city council of Brampton have been very helpful. "

However, when a strike was called that involved construction workers at the temple, leaders were concerned that the temple could not be completed on schedule. In consideration of the open house dates, union leaders agreed to allow a few members to do finishing work inside the temple on an unpaid, voluntary basis. Elder Warner said Jerry D. Sears, project manager, was "working night and day" to meet the deadline.

Elder Warner and other temple committee members have also been busy, focusing on the multitude ofdetails in such a project. "It has been extremely gratifying to see the amount of support from priesthood leaders and members of the temple district," said Elder Warner.

"As requests have come to them for volunteers, they have responded very well."

The new structure is imposing in its setting, he said. A single, 150-foot spire, topped by a gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni, rises from the center of the temple. It is situated on a 13-acre site on the outskirts of this community, located about 20 miles northwest of Toronto.

The temple, the Church's 44th, has 54,000 square feet of floor space, and will serve some 65,000 members in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and parts of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.

It was in Ontario where John Taylor, who later became the third president of the Church, was converted, and where other early converts laid the foundation for the Church's successful missionary work in the British Isles. Between 1830 and 1850, an estimated 2,500 Canadians joined the Church. Most of them gathered with the saints in the West.

Years later, missionary efforts re-established the Church in eastern Canada. In August 1913, a Canadian conference had been organized in Toronto. The first meetinghouse in eastern Canada was dedicated in Toronto in 1939, and the first eastern Canadian stake was organized there in 1960.

In 1972, membership throughout Canada was 55,532. A decade later, membership had increased to 87,657, a growth of 57 percent. Today, Canada has some 126,000 members. While the majority are in the West, stakes have been created in most of its provinces, including those in the East.

The Toronto temple was announced April 7, 1984, by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then second counselor in the First Presidency. Ground was broken Oct. 10, 1987, by President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency and former president of the Canadian Mission.