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BRAMPTON, Ontario — Most brides have a photo shoot in the picturesque Toronto Ontario Temple grounds — and not just those who were just married inside.
It is a regular sight to see the temple grounds suddenly fill up with dozens of cars on a Saturday afternoon and a bridal party having their official photographs taken. For many years, a top choice of brides of all religions is the grounds of the Toronto Ontario Temple because of the spectacular display of flowers, shrubs, trees and other landscaping features that make it one of the best natural backdrops for brides to be photographed.
Brampton was named Canada’s Flower City for a huge greenhouse that for decades in the 20th century specialized in roses and sent them all over North America.
The Toronto Temple gardens have helped Brampton win a number of Communities in Bloom awards in last several years, including the national title in 2006 and the international award in 2008.
Those two wins — competing along with upward of 200 communities — put Brampton, Canada’s 11th largest city and one of the fastest-growing, in what Communities in Bloom calls the Circle of Excellence, reserved for past winners.
The Toronto Ontario Temple became involved at the invitation of the city of Brampton, a community of close to half a million people just a few minutes north of Toronto’s international airport, when community leaders and residents had marveled at the floral display in the temple gardens.
Toronto Temple President Malcolm Warner was contacted by Steve Preston from the city parks department to see if the temple grounds could be included in Brampton’s submission to the Communities in Bloom competition.
And for the past nine years, there has been a great, growing, even blooming relationship between the city and the church.
“It was one of the best things we did,” said Preston. "The temple gardens are a real jewel in Brampton's crown.”
Brampton, home of Canadarm2, a part of the International Space Station, has also listed the LDS Church as a community partner and on occasion has included Mormons in various celebrations where family history displays were highlighted and at child-centered activities where the family is being promoted.
Brampton officials has used photographs from the temple gardens in traveling displays and city booklets, and the tourism department asked if the temple gardens could be included as a destination garden.
For the past couple of years, busloads of tourists have visited the temple gardens.
The 2010-11 tourism guide for Brampton says: “Toronto Ontario Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brampton offers some of the most beautiful grounds in the Greater Toronto Area. With its spectacular flowers and impressive fountains, the gardens of the temple are open to the public during the growing season on Sunday and Tuesday to Friday from noon until 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays. The Temple respectfully requests that there be no smoking or picnicking on the grounds.”
And the Downtown Heritage walking tour for Brampton has a photo of the temple gardens on the inside cover.
Owen MacLean is the master gardener who has created the amazing gardens at the Toronto Ontario Temple that have made such an impact for the church in the community.
Owen personally, as well as the LDS Church, has received many awards for “outstanding contributions” to the community during the years.
The Brampton Horticultural Society has asked Owen to lead tours of the gardens for its members on a number of occasions.
With the city of Brampton using photos of the temple grounds in its tourism brochures — and the fact that the temple is located at one of the city’s busiest intersections — most people in the community have seen the temple gardens in all their glory.
John Farrington, a journalist for more than 50 years, currently runs his own business, farringtonmedia, writing, editing and publishing magazines and books. He has been involved with church public affairs for 35 years.