THE STORY OF AURORA

Timeline of Indigenous History

The Anishinaabe lands on which the Town of Aurora is located are the traditional and Treaty #20 territories of the Chippewas of Georgina Island. We further acknowledge that Aurora is part of the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, recognized through Treaty #13 as well as the Williams Treaties of 1923.
This timeline is a resource available to all visitors to learn about significant events in the history of Indigenous People. Explore over 1000 years of Indigenous history, discover who lived here for generations, and how the arrival of European settlers affected their lives and legacies.
This is a living timeline and we will continue to fill in gaps with new entries as research is completed. We hope that all visitors to this site take with them some of the history shared here and are prompted to continue their own journey of understanding and reconciliation. Thank you for visiting.




Timeline of Aurora History

In the late 18th century European settlement began in what is now Aurora – sparked by the creation of Yonge Street. In 1793 Lieutenant‐Governor John Graves Simcoe ordered the extension of Yonge Street from Toronto to Holland Landing as a military road to secure trade and communication routes. To encourage settlement, Simcoe offered generous land grants: the first in the area were granted in 1797 to William McClellan, Thomas Phillips, Charles Fathers, and Frederick Smith.  A small hamlet soon developed centred on the intersection of Yonge and Wellington Streets. In 1834 Richard Machell purchased an acre of land on the south-east corner and established a store. Over the next few years Machell purchased the surrounding land, primarily to the north, and the hamlet was known as Machell’s Corners. 
The 1850’s saw further expansion with the arrival of the railway in 1853, making the area more attractive for settlement. Farmlands were divided into building lots to accommodate the influx of new settlers, and Richard Machell filed the first plan for “Matchville” in May of that year. In 1859 Joseph Fleury arrived and partnered with Thomas Pearson in an agricultural implement manufacturing operation where they developed a cast‐beam plough. The plough was perfected over the years by Fleury, and The Aurora Agricultural Works (later J. Fleury’s Sons) became a central part of Aurora’s economy as its largest employer. 
In 1863, Aurora was incorporated as a village and was officially named by Charles Doan who became the first reeve. Aurora was named after the Roman goddess of the same name. In 1888 the Village of Aurora became a Town, officially incorporating on January 1st. 
By the turn of the 20th century the Town of Aurora was flourishing with a population of 1,590 according to the 1901 census. An impressive Public School on Church Street had been built and the Town was home to numerous businesses and industries including the T. Sisman Shoe Company, Collis Leather, Cousins Dairy, Caruso’s Fruit Store, Scanlon Bakery, and the Wilkinson Plough Company among others. 
Further development and steady growth in the Town occurred particularly after World War II, a trend which continues to this day. New industries have replaced the old including Magna International and the Canadian headquarters for State Farm Insurance.  Today Aurora has a population of over 62,000, a number that has more than doubled since 1986. A skilled, professional workforce has replaced the farmer, merchant and factory worker of the past. Aurora is a young, family-centred community that is growing and ever changing. 
 
We will be adding to this section as  our research into the complex and robust history of the Town of Aurora in an ongoing project. If there is a particular topic you are interested in please feel free to reach out to museum staff!
 
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