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8 interesting facts about the Toronto Ontario Temple as it hits the 25-year mark

SHARE 8 interesting facts about the Toronto Ontario Temple as it hits the 25-year mark

On June 22, 1986, President Thomas S. Monson created the 1,600th stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and announced a temple would be built in the Toronto area.

In October of the following year, President Monson returned for the groundbreaking of the Toronto Ontario Temple. In his remarks, he recalled a conversation in which President Gordon B. Hinckley asked if President Monson could promise at least 35,000 members in Ontario, enough to keep the temple busy.

President Monson responded with supreme confidence, as recounted in his biography by Heidi S. Swinton, "To the Rescue."

"Brother Hinckley," said President Monson, "we will have 35,000 members in the city of Toronto, without considering all of Ontario."

"Will you guarantee it?" President Hinckley said.

"I will guarantee it," President Monson said. "And (Elder M. Russell) Ballard will second the motion."

Construction began shortly thereafter. When the temple was dedicated in August 1990, the temple district included some 65,000 members, according to the Ensign.

"Temples like the Toronto Temple are built with stone, glass, wood and metal," President Monson said in a 1990 Church News article. "But they are also a product of faith and an example of sacrifice. The funds to build temples come from all tithe payers and consist of the widow's mite, children's pennies and workmen's dollars — all consecrated by faith. … The beautiful Toronto Temple prepares all who enter to return homeward — homeward to heaven, homeward to family, homeward to God."

The Toronto Ontario Temple was dedicated by President Hinckley Aug. 25-27, 1990. This month marks the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the LDS Church's 44th temple, located in Brampton, about 20 miles west of downtown Toronto. In celebration of this milestone, here are eight interesting facts about the Toronto Ontario Temple.

1. Labor strike

As the temple neared completion, work was temporarily interrupted by a labor strike. Church leaders were concerned the temple would not be ready in time for the scheduled open house, but union leaders allowed some workers to do finish work on an upaid, volunteer basis, according to "The First 100 Temples" by Chad Hawkins. Led by project manager Jerry D. Sears, those involved worked night and day to meet the deadline, the LDS Church News reported.

2. International service

At the time of its completion, the Toronto Ontario Temple served members in six Canadian provinces and five U.S. states, including Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and parts of Ontario, as well as parts of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.

To serve various nationalities, the dedicatory services were translated into French, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin.

President Gordon B. Hinckley referenced the culturally diverse area in the dedicatory prayer.

"This nation has become a gathering place for people from scores of other lands. In their veins flows the blood of Israel. Many have hearkened to the testimony of thy servants and have been favored with a knowledge of the principles and ordinances of thine everlasting gospel," President Hinckley said. "May their numbers increase and may thy holy work grow in strength here and across the world."

3. Rich heritage

Toronto and the surrounding region is rich with events from early Latter-day Saint history.

The original temple district included such historical sites as the Hill Cumorah, the Sacred Grove, and Palmyra, New York; Kirtland, Ohio; Vermont, birthplace of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball; and Fayette, New York, the birthplace of the church.

The first missionary work outside the United States took place in the original Toronto temple district. John Taylor, the third president of the church, was converted in Ontario. Between 1830 and 1850, an estimated 2,500 Canadians joined the church and came to America, according to the LDS Church News.

Missionary work was rekindled in eastern Canada in 1913, and the first meetinghouse was dedicated in 1939. The first stake was organized in 1960.

Today, there are eight operating temples, seven missions and more than 192,000 members throughout Canada, according to LDS.org.

4. 6,000 referrals

More than 61,000 people attended the Toronto Ontario Temple’s 16-day open house.

C. Malcom Warner, a regional representative and vice chairman of the LDS Church's temple committee, told the LDS Church News in 1990 that 30-40 percent of the visitors were nonmembers.

The open house generated more than 6,000 referrals, Warner said, with many being considered "golden referrals."

5. President Monson

President Monson served as mission president in Toronto from 1959-1962, so participating in the temple dedication was especially meaningful for him. He referred to the dedication as a "capstone event" and called the Toronto temple a "treasure," according to the LDS Church News.

"We're close to heaven on this glorious occasion," said President Monson, then a counselor in the First Presidency, during the first dedication session. "This is a day of thanksgiving as well as a day of dedication."

In another session, he recognized those who pioneered the work in Toronto and spoke of temple blessings to come.

"This temple can make our tomorrows gloriously bright as they certainly will be with family and friends," he said.

6. Memorable contribution

In his 1994 book, "Inspiring Experiences that Build Faith," President Monson told the story of 10-year-old Jacob Fortin.

When the Toronto temple was announced, Fortin began donating a few pennies with his tithing.

On his birthday, his grandmother gave him a crisp $20 bill. Although he had been thinking about how he would spend his birthday money all year, he decided to donate the entire sum to the temple building fund. He did not tell his parents.

His father was a member of the bishopric, and while reviewing the weekly contributions, he saw his son's donation and was moved by his son's generous act.

Fortin's father later asked him what prompted him to give such a large donation to the temple fund.

"I love my Heavenly Father and I want his house to be beautiful," the boy said.

7. Community admiration

Following the dedication, city leaders in Brampton recognized the Toronto Ontario Temple with an award of excellence. The award is given every two years to honor quality developments that enhance the beauty of the city, a 1990 LDS Church News article said.

8. Planting flowers

Shortly after the temple was dedicated, young women from the Toronto, Kitchener, Hamilton, Oshawa and Brampton Ontario stakes began planting a values garden on the north side of the temple. More than 4,000 white, yellow, orange, red, blue and purple tulips and daffodils were planted in 12 flower beds, according to a 1992 article in the LDS Church News.

The following spring, several groups returned to weed and to plant additional pansies, geraniums, begonias and petunias. The groups helped to maintain the flower beds in the years that followed.

"When the young women come to the temple to do baptisms, they see their gardens and can feel good about their work," Toronto temple gardener Owen McLean told the LDS Church News.

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