Canada is one of only a few countries to host more than one Mormon temple, and Alberta is home to three of the nation’s eight.
Situated approximately halfway between the Cardston Alberta Temple to the south and the Edmonton Alberta Temple to the north, the Calgary Alberta Temple serves Church members living in the Calgary area and surrounding communities, from Banff to Drumheller. Church members from these areas had long hoped for a temple, in part because the building permit for a meetinghouse built in Calgary allowed two structures on a 10-acre lot. Now, years after the meetinghouse was built, the Calgary Alberta Temple stands overlooking the city skyline as the second structure standing on this lot.
Church membership in Alberta has always been greater than in other parts of Canada due in part to the Church’s long history there — Mormon settlers founded several settlements in southern Alberta in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Cardston, Magrath, Stirling and Raymond.
n the winter of 1829–30, Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page visited Upper Canada while seeking money to finance the publication of the Book of Mormon. After the publication of the Book of Mormon in March 1830, the unbaptized convert Phineas Young preached in Earnestown.
Joseph Smith, Sr. and Don Carlos Smith—the first official Latter-day Saint missionaries to preach outside of the United States, visited Upper Canada in September 1830 and preached in villages north of the St. Lawrence River. In January 1832, converts Brigham and Phineas Young went to Upper Canada to convince their brother Joseph Young to join the Church. After Joseph’s baptism, the Young brothers taught their family and friends in Canada and baptized over 150 individuals and established four branches of the Church, including a branch in Kingston and Sydenham.
The Prophet Joseph Smith preached in Upper Canada in September 1833 with Sidney Rigdon and Freeman Nickerson. Also in 1833, future Apostle Lyman E. Johnson preached in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Later, John E. Page and Apostle Parley P. Pratt served successful missions to Upper Canada. Between 1834 and 1836, Page baptized over 1,000 persons, and Pratt was instrumental in the conversion of a number of people who would later have prominent roles in the Church, including John Taylor, Joseph and Mary Fielding, and William Law.
By 1850, approximately 2,500 residents of Canada, most of them from Upper Canada, had become members of The Church of Jesus Christ. Most of these members would later join the gathering of the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, Nauvoo, Illinois, and eventually Salt Lake City, Utah. By 1861, the census of Ontario listed only 73 Mormons.
Mormons first began to settle in southern Alberta, Canada in the late 1880s. Many of them at that time were contract workers on the St. Mary’s Irrigation Canal, or farmers in present-day Cardston Alberta.
In 1887, John Taylor, the third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sent Charles Ora Card, the president of the Church’s Cache Stake, to Canada’s Northwest Territories to establish a Mormon colony that was beyond the reach of the United States government’s anti-polygamy prosecutions. Card led a group of followers and established a settlement along Lee’s Creek. The settlement was eventually renamed Cardston in Card’s honour. In 1895, the Alberta Stake of the Church was created, with Card as its President. It was the first stake of the Church established outside of the United States.
Mormon pioneers continued to colonize what would become Alberta in 1905. Before the turn of the century, Latter-day Saints had founded Mountain View, Aetna, Beazer, Leavitt, Kimball, Caldwell, Taylorville, Magrath, and Stirling. After 1900, Mormon colonies were established in Woolford, Welling, Orton, Raymond, Barnwell, Taber, Frankburg, Glenwood, and Hill Spring. Church Apostle John W. Taylor, the son of President John Taylor, played a leadership role in assisting Latter-day Saint emigration from Utah to Alberta.
In 1895, the Alberta Stake was divided in two. The Alberta Stake remained headquartered in Cardston, and the new Taylor Stake (named in honor of John W. Taylor) was headquartered in Raymond. By 1910, there were about 10,000 Latter-day Saints in southern Alberta, and in 1913 the Church began construction of a temple in Cardston. In 1924, Heber J. Grant dedicated the Alberta Temple as the first Church temple outside of the United States. In 1921, a stake was organized in Lethbridge.
Stirling, one of Alberta’s original Mormon settlements and a National Historic Site of Canada, was founded by Theodore Brandley in 1899, and is one of few towns in Canada plotted out by the Plat of Zion. Today, Stirling still follows the Plat of Zion. For this reason, the village is recognized as the most well-preserved Canadian example of the Latter-day Saint planning model.
President Thomas S. Monson announced the Calgary Alberta Temple in the opening session of the 178th Semiannual General Conference on October 4, 2008.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, “Church Continues Temple Building Throughout the World,” 4 Oct. 2008.Once completed, the Calgary Alberta Temple will be Canada’s eighth temple and Alberta’s third. The other Albertan temples are located in Cardston, Alberta and in Edmonton, Alberta.Mikita, Carole (October 4, 2008), LDS Church plans temples in Rome, 4 other locations, KSL-TV, retrieved 2012-10-26Hill, Greg (February 28, 2009), “Another temple for Alberta: Province’s third, in Calgary, fills gap between Edmonton, Cardston“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-26
Latter-day Saints first began to settle in southern Alberta in the 1880s as contract workers on the St. Mary’s Irrigation Canal and as farmers in present-day Cardston. By 1895, the first stake in Alberta was established, and membership in the Church has continued to thrive ever since. Today there are over 75,000 members throughout the province.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, “New Temple in Calgary Brings Canadian Total to Eight,” 4 Oct. 2008.
On Friday, August 7, 2009, Abbarch Architecture applied for a land use amendment with the City of Calgary to accommodate a “Place of Worship” at 81 Royal Elm Dr NW.”City of Calgary – Development & Building Approvals,” The City of Calgary, 1 Aug. 2009 to 7 Aug. 2009, 11 Aug. 2009 . The application was reviewed by various City departments and officials before a recommendation was made to the Calgary Planning Commission.
On Thursday, November 26, 2009, the Calgary Planning Commission considered the request for redesignation of the temple site from Direct Control District to Special Purpose—Community Institution District, which would permit the proposed height of the temple and its steeple. The original bylaw already allowed for two comprehensively designed places of worship on site but at a height that accommodated the meetinghouse only, as the temple had not yet been designed. The Commission recommended adoption of the new bylaw, but it also recommended that the City Council consider an alternative: amend the bylaw to Direct Control District based on S-CI District, which would allow restrictions and specifications to be written into the law that addressed community concerns.”Minutes of the Calgary Planning Commission,” The City of Calgary 26 Nov. 2009, 11 Dec. 2009 . The suggestion proved to be an effective compromise, which met the needs of the Church while addressing the concerns of neighbors, namely, concern over the possibility of a loop hole on height restrictions and difficulty in challenging an access issue, as expressed by the Chair of the Rocky Ridge Royal Oak Community Association. The Association did not oppose the building and steeple height as proposed.”Minutes of the Calgary Planning Commission,” The City of Calgary 26 Nov. 2009, 11 Dec. 2009 .
On Monday, February 8, 2010, the Calgary City Council approval the amended version of the bylaw, which permitted the height and design of the temple while adding provisions that limited the number of places of worship on site to two (the temple and meetinghouse), established specific building and steeple heights for both places of worship, and restricted access to the site to three specific turn lanes. A report was distributed to the City Council that included several renderings of the temple and site plans.”Minutes of the Combined Meeting of Council,” The City of Calgary 8 Feb. 2010, 15 Feb. 2010 .
Ground was broken for the Calgary Alberta Temple on Saturday, May 15, 2010, to an audience of about 1,600 Church members, priesthood leaders, civic leaders, government representatives, and cabinet ministers in an inspiring ceremony presided by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder William R. Walker, Executive Director of the Temple Department, conducted the ceremony. And Elder Richard K. Melchin, the Area Seventy who has played a key role in the events leading to the construction of the temple at this location, was also in attendance.
In his remarks, Elder Hallstrom said that the purpose of the temple is to “connect men [and women] on earth with God in Heaven through promises to God and faithfulness in our lives.” He asked members to not just think of dedicating temples to God but to think of dedicating themselves to God through the covenants of the temple.Ian Miller, “Temple in Calgary now under way,” Church News 22 May 2010, 27 May 2010 .
At the temple’s groundbreaking ceremony, a member of Parliament delivered a letter from Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, who lived within a few miles of the temple site. Prime Minister Harper praised the soon-to-be-constructed temple as “an inspiring landmark and a fitting tribute to the Mormon community’s long and proud history in the province and in Canada.” Ian Miller, “Temple in Calgary Now Under Way,” Church News, May 22, 2010.Gerson, Jen (May 16, 2010), “Mormons break ground on long-awaited temple”, Calgary Herald, p. A3. Reprint, Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine at Canada.com, retrieved 2012-10-30.
An open house which afforded community leaders, as well as, the general public an opportunity to tour the inside of a Mormon temple, and receive explanations of how temples are used for worship and as a House of God, was held 29 September 2012 through 20 October 2012. The open house was not conducted on Sundays. Swensen, Jason (September 28, 2012), “Calgary Alberta Temple: Enthusiasm for temple“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-26Ferguson, Eva (September 27, 2012), “New Mormon temple in city’s northwest unveiled to the public“, Calgary Herald, retrieved 2012-10-26 Over 100,000 people toured the temple.Nolais, Jeremy (October 23, 2012), “Calgary Mormon temple visited by more than 100K“, Metro Calgary, retrieved 2012-10-26
A cultural celebration was held October 27, 2012.Avant, Gerry (Oct 27, 2012), “Calgary Alberta Temple: Youth present celebration on eve of dedication“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-30
At the temple’s dedication, held in three sessions on October 28, 2012, President Thomas S. Monson referred to his experiences serving two missions in Canada years before becoming President of the Church. He said, “Canada is like a second home. Whether east or west, north or south, I love Canada and all our members here. I have a special place in my heart for this land and its people.” Gerry Avant, “Calgary Alberta Temple: Dedication Day,” Church News, Nov. 3, 2012. Avant, Gerry (October 28, 2012), “Calgary Alberta Temple: Dedication marks 140th operating temple for Church“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-30”Church President Dedicates 140th Temple“, Newsroom (Press release), LDS Church, October 28, 2012, retrieved 2012-10-30
During his dedicatory prayer, President Monson said, “May this House provide a spirit of peace to all who observe its majesty, and especially to those who enter for their own sacred ordinances and to perform the work for those beyond the veil. Let them feel of Thy divine love and mercy. As we dedicate this sacred edifice, we rededicate our very lives to Thee and to Thy work.” “Calgary Alberta Temple: ‘A Spirit of Peace,’” Church News, Nov. 3, 2012.
Assisting President Monson for the traditional cornerstone ceremony prior to the dedication were Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Craig C. Christensen and Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy, and Temple President and Matron, Blair S. and Mary Jane C. Bennett. A choir composed of Latter-day Saints from within the temple district sang Church hymns for the dedication and cornerstone ceremony.
The Calgary Alberta Temple was dedicated in 2012, 89 years after the first Canadian temple was dedicated in Cardston, Alberta, in 1923.
The Calgary Alberta Temple is the 140th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the eighth temple in Canada.
|Temple President||Years Served|
|John W. Swendsen||2019–2019|
|Howard P. Heninger||2017–2019|
|Ellis G. Stonehocker||2015–2017|
|Blair S. Bennett||2012–2015|
The immaculate grounds surrounding the temple include grand stairways, walkways, shrubs and trees. A three-meter-tall gold-leafed statue of angel Moroni, an ancient Book of Mormon prophet, tops the temple’s spire.
As described by Elder Richard K. Melchin, Area Seventy in the North America Central Area, the temple site is a “beautiful site with a panoramic view of the city.” Located next to the Royal Oak Chapel in northwest Calgary, the site was purchased about four years prior to the temple announcement. Over 18,000 members live in Calgary organized into six stakes.Sean Myers, “Mormon temple slated for N.W.,” Calgary Herald 6 Oct. 2008, 6 Oct. 2008 .
Access to the temple will be greatly facilitated by the Tuscany C-Train station. C-Train is Calgary’s light rail transit (LRT), which provides public transportation to various sections of the city. The Tuscany station will be located within short walking distance of the temple at the intersection of Crowchild Trail and Rocky Ridge Road, which borders the temple site to the west. The station was originally planned to be completed after 2023, but on November 7, 2007, the Calgary City Council approved and funded completion of the station by 2011—about a year before completion of the temple.”Tuscany/Rocky Ridge (C-Train),” Wikipedia, 6 Oct. 2008 .
The Calgary Ring Road—a beltway project that is surrounding Calgary with a high-capacity freeway—will also improve access to the temple. The Stoney Trail/Crowchild Trail Interchange, just a couple of blocks from the temple site, is planned to be completed in the fall of 2011.”Calgary Ring Road,” The City of Calgary, 9 Oct. 2008, 11 Oct. 2008 .
Its exterior is covered in gray granite quarried in China.
Stained glass windows designed with a wheat motif adorn the exterior.
Spire and Moroni
On January 12, 2012, hundreds of Calgary members gathered to the Royal Oak Chapel on a dark, wintery morning to witness the raising of the angel Moroni statue atop the Calgary Alberta Temple. A palatable excitement was in the air as hot chocolate was served from pickup trucks, media teams conducted interviews in the parking lot, seminary students—dressed in funky pajamas and wrapped in blankets—burst into The Spirit of God, and neighbors stood on second-story decks snapping photographs and watching the proceedings. The spire and statue assembly, put together the evening before, was hoisted into the air at 9:05 a.m. and was being bolted into place by 9:20 a.m.Joseph F. Dobson, “Calgary Alberta Temple Receives Angel Moroni,” Email to Rick Satterfield, 12 Jan. 2012.
The completed temple, which was built in the contemporary style, stands at 33,000 square feet and includes instruction rooms, rooms where weddings take place, a room symbolic of God’s presence and a baptistry.
Spanish marble, Turkish travertine, Brazilian granite and oak and maple woodwork decorate the temple’s interior. The wheat motif seen in the stained glass also appears in carved doorknobs, furniture and railings as an acknowledgement of the importance of agriculture to Alberta’s prairie communities. Hand-painted murals pay tribute to the nearby rugged Canadian Rockies and other elements of Calgary’s beautiful natural landscape.
Those who see the Calgary Alberta Temple, with its radiant stained glass windows shining out on Canada’s dark winter nights, sense the majesty and peace that President Monson spoke of.
Sources and Citations
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, “Church Continues Temple Building Throughout the World,” 4 Oct. 2008.|
|2.||↑||Mikita, Carole (October 4, 2008), LDS Church plans temples in Rome, 4 other locations, KSL-TV, retrieved 2012-10-26|
|3.||↑||Hill, Greg (February 28, 2009), “Another temple for Alberta: Province’s third, in Calgary, fills gap between Edmonton, Cardston“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-26|
|4.||↑||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, “New Temple in Calgary Brings Canadian Total to Eight,” 4 Oct. 2008.|
|5.||↑||”City of Calgary – Development & Building Approvals,” The City of Calgary, 1 Aug. 2009 to 7 Aug. 2009, 11 Aug. 2009 .|
|6, 7.||↑||”Minutes of the Calgary Planning Commission,” The City of Calgary 26 Nov. 2009, 11 Dec. 2009 .|
|8.||↑||”Minutes of the Combined Meeting of Council,” The City of Calgary 8 Feb. 2010, 15 Feb. 2010 .|
|9.||↑||Ian Miller, “Temple in Calgary now under way,” Church News 22 May 2010, 27 May 2010 .|
|10.||↑||Ian Miller, “Temple in Calgary Now Under Way,” Church News, May 22, 2010.|
|11.||↑||Gerson, Jen (May 16, 2010), “Mormons break ground on long-awaited temple”, Calgary Herald, p. A3. Reprint, Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine at Canada.com, retrieved 2012-10-30.|
|12.||↑||Swensen, Jason (September 28, 2012), “Calgary Alberta Temple: Enthusiasm for temple“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-26|
|13.||↑||Ferguson, Eva (September 27, 2012), “New Mormon temple in city’s northwest unveiled to the public“, Calgary Herald, retrieved 2012-10-26|
|14.||↑||Nolais, Jeremy (October 23, 2012), “Calgary Mormon temple visited by more than 100K“, Metro Calgary, retrieved 2012-10-26|
|15.||↑||Avant, Gerry (Oct 27, 2012), “Calgary Alberta Temple: Youth present celebration on eve of dedication“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-30|
|16.||↑||Gerry Avant, “Calgary Alberta Temple: Dedication Day,” Church News, Nov. 3, 2012.|
|17.||↑||Avant, Gerry (October 28, 2012), “Calgary Alberta Temple: Dedication marks 140th operating temple for Church“, Church News, retrieved 2012-10-30|
|18.||↑||”Church President Dedicates 140th Temple“, Newsroom (Press release), LDS Church, October 28, 2012, retrieved 2012-10-30|
|19.||↑||“Calgary Alberta Temple: ‘A Spirit of Peace,’” Church News, Nov. 3, 2012.|
|20.||↑||Sean Myers, “Mormon temple slated for N.W.,” Calgary Herald 6 Oct. 2008, 6 Oct. 2008 .|
|21.||↑||”Tuscany/Rocky Ridge (C-Train),” Wikipedia, 6 Oct. 2008 .|
|22.||↑||”Calgary Ring Road,” The City of Calgary, 9 Oct. 2008, 11 Oct. 2008 .|
|23.||↑||Joseph F. Dobson, “Calgary Alberta Temple Receives Angel Moroni,” Email to Rick Satterfield, 12 Jan. 2012.|