New architecture in Canada promotes Buddhism

The Main Hall (right) and the Guanyin Hall (left). SUPPLIED TO CHINA DAILY

A wooden structure in the Tang Dynasty style was recently completed in Cavan-Monaghan, Peterborough County, Canada.

The Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden’s Guanyin Hall, built by the Buddhist Association of Canada’s Cham Shan Temple, represents another milestone in the garden’s construction plans following the completion of the main hall in 2019.

The Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden is the first phase of the project, called the Four Sacred Buddhist Gardens. It is to be developed on 535 acres of land in Cavan-Monaghan, Peterborough County, Canada.

As the largest Buddhist complex outside of China, the Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden features Tang Dynasty-style wooden architecture built with an ancient Chinese technique called “dougong”. The technique uses large wooden interlocking brackets without a single nail. The structure aims to promote Chinese culture and signifies strengthening ties between China and Canada and uniting all branches of Buddhism, according to Cham Shan Temple.

“The Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada is a culminating showcase of Buddhist culture, ancient Chinese building techniques and traditional Chinese garden designs,” said Ven. Dayi Shi, who has relentlessly led the sangha and laity over the past two decades to turn vision into reality.

Forty years ago, the three founders of the Cham Shan temple swore to build the four great sacred Buddhist gardens in Canada. In 2004, Dayi Shi became abbot of the Cham Shan temple and the construction mission was entrusted to him. After decades of adversity and unimaginable challenges, they finally launched the project in 2005 with government approvals and permits obtained in 2006.

With support from the Canadian and Chinese governments and generous donations from sponsors, congregational members and local communities, the architectural landscape has transformed into a world-class Buddhist resort with meditation/retreat centers.

Dayi Shi said everyone is welcome at the resort. It is a place where people find inner peace and freedom from the sufferings of this world. “As Buddhism is not just a religion, but rather a principle for living a peaceful life. Followers of other religions are encouraged to add the study of Buddhism as a guide for living a peaceful life,” he said. he declares.

Additional wooden structures to be built on site include the Avalokitesvara Hall, Ksitigarbha Hall and the Main Entrance Gate. These sets of buildings, as well as the main Buddha hall, are all constructed using ancient Chinese architectural techniques.

The main hall, built from 2011 to 2019, is an exact proportion replica of the main hall of Wutai Shan in Shanxi, a protected cultural heritage of China. Its dedication ceremony in 2019 saw a record 27,000 visitors to the site.

The opening of the Main Buddha Hall marks a milestone, showcasing Chinese tradition and culture. The Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada will also play an important role in promoting local tourism and boosting economic development, further contributing to multiculturalism in Canada, according to the Buddhist Association of China.

“Peace and harmony are the main themes that bring us together and spread value in our society,” said Senator Victor Oh, who attended the opening ceremony. “The steadfast faith and dedication of the Venerable Masters is the foundation of today’s success, bringing diversity to our culture and strengthening the spirit of freedom of religious belief in Canada.”

The construction of Guanyin Hall coincided with the COVID pandemic, which brought unprecedented and immense challenges, such as the global supply chain crisis, the significant increase in the cost of building supplies and materials, and the impossibility of obtaining an entry visa for Chinese artisans. And because of that, it didn’t open as expected.

Guanyin Hall, now complete, has an area of ​​approximately 5,000 square feet. Since the ceremony in September 2021, Cham Shan Temple and all other parties involved have been making efforts for its construction. Assembly of its wooden structure took just five and a half months – from April 15 to September 30, 2022, setting a record for the shortest construction time in North America

“All the obstacles have been overcome thanks to everyone’s immense support and the valiant efforts of the management and the construction teams,” said Dayi Shi.

Dayi Shi also said that the Wutai Shan project needed more time to be completed. He is committed to completing construction immediately so that he can share the benefits of Buddhist dharma and enrich Canadian multiculturalism.