Comparative Studies in Society and History

Research Article

“Money bound you—money shall loose you”: Micro-Credit, Social Capital, and the Meaning of Money in Upper Canada

Albert Schrauwersa1 c1

a1 Anthropology, York University

In late 1832, a small religious sect, the Children of Peace, completed their second place of worship, a temple, in the village of Hope in the sparsely settled northern reaches of Toronto's rural hinterland. Called by a vision to “ornament the Christian Church with all the glory of Israel,” the Children of Peace rebuilt Solomon's temple as the seat of their New Jerusalem (Schrauwers 1993; 2009). As William Lyon Mackenzie, newspaper editor, mayor of Toronto, and member of the elected assembly for the riding enthused, this three-tiered building was “calculated to inspire the beholder with astonishment; its dimensions—its architecture—its situation—are all so extraordinary” (CA 18 Sept. 1828). The Children of Peace, having fled a cruel and uncaring English pharaoh, viewed themselves as the new Israelites lost in the wilderness of Upper Canada; here they would end sectarianism and rebuild God's kingdom on the principle of charity. It is important to stress both the symbolism and the intended function of this, their second church; the highly symbolic temple was intended solely for their monthly alms sacrifice for the poor “Israelite fashion.” The Charity Fund they collected there was utilized for “the relief of the poor of the contributors, and others” (Sharon Temple n.d.: 11), as well as the support of a shelter for the homeless (Schrauwers 2009: 47). Targeted recipients included victims of a cholera epidemic in Toronto and starving pioneer settlers in the outlying districts (CA 23 Aug. 1832; Constitution 4 May 1837).

(Online publication March 29 2011)