Approximately 700 members in Maritime Canada spent their Thanksgiving Day Oct. 12 participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for a temple here that will serve Church members in a temple district roughly equivalent to the size of the western United States.
The site of the new Halifax Nova Scotia Temple is adjacent to the Dartmouth stake center. Heavy rains forced the groundbreaking ceremony indoors, before Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy and president of the North America Northeast Area led a small group of local leaders outdoors where they turned the water-sogged soil."Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and what a happy day it is," said Elder Jensen. "Whoever thought that during your mortal life we would really be here doing this? If everything goes well, we could be back here in about a year."
As he admonished members in Michigan two days earlier at the groundbreaking for the Detroit temple, Elder Jensen suggested four ways to prepare individually and as families for the temple: Be prayerful about the temple . . . that the work will go forward. Obtain the picture of your temple and display it in your home. Teach your children in family home evening to fill out family group sheets, and obtain and keep a current temple recommend.
Attending the temple for members in Atlantic Canada has been a major effort, said Pres. Stephen Maxwell of the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake. "From my home to either the Washington D.C. Temple or the Toronto temple requires a 24-hour drive," he said, "which is about the same as someone in Salt Lake City driving to St. Paul, Minn., to attend the temple.
"In preparing for this day I have thought about those who have built up the Church in our area, but have passed on before seeing this wonderful day," he continued. "Can you sense their joy at the marvelous work which will now be possible here in Atlantic Canada?"
Many who attended the groundbreaking drove at least six to seven hours, he said, including Pres. Brent F. Williams of the New Brunswick stake who traveled eight hours.
The Nova Scotia area was among the fastest growing areas of the Church in Canada in the 1970s. Starting with 250 members in 1972, membership increased 800 percent in 10 years, reaching 2,331. The Dartmouth/Halifax area in Nova Scotia continues to serve as the center of the Church activity of about 7,000 members in the Maritimes.
"How did we arrive at this day?" asked Pres. Williams. "It is through the faith and prayers of those here today, and of multitudes who have gone before."
"How many times have we prayed for a temple in the Maritimes?" asked Pres. Byron R. Christensen of the Canada Halifax Mission. "History is being made."
"I think it is wonderful," said Anna Davison, Relief Society president in the Bridgewater Ward, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake. "We won't have to travel 20 hours by car and 1,200 miles to attend the temple."
"I have seen a lot of growth in the Church in the Maritimes," said Reg Hilchie, counselor in the New Brunswick stake presidency. "I remember meeting in hotels and school buildings. Now we have beautiful chapels everywhere and soon will have a beautiful temple."
"I never thought it would happen in my day," said James Bailey, branch president in the New Glasgow District, a two-hour drive from the temple site. "I have driven this road many times, but today was a different feeling."
"Don't think of it as a small temple," admonished Elder Jensen, quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley. "Make it big in your hearts."