Some Employees of J. Fleury’s Sons, July 1893, Aurora Museum & Archives (992.13.3)
Charles Bailey started at the Foundry in June of 1881 and made 15 cents an hour. By 1901, he was earning $450 a year as a blacksmith and worked 60 hours a week.
Charles is credited as an inventor for the Foundry on a 1910 patent for a tool holder. On the patent document, Charles describes his invention as, “A tool holder for that class of agricultural implements, such as plows and the like, in which the handle bars are braced by stay rods, connected at one end to the plow mean and the other to the handle bars, the object of my invention being to form one of both of the stay rods with one or more tool holders to retain and carry a tool, such as a wrench or the like, during the use of the implement” (Patent 129943, 1910).
By 1911 Charles was earning $600 a year. He continued to work at the Foundry for over forty years and in 1921, he held the position of a foreman and made $1200 annually.
Jacob Anderson began working at Aurora Agricultural Works in the late 1860s and had a lifelong career at the Foundry. His experience with the company is intriguing as he was with the Foundry when it was known as Aurora Agricultural Works, J. Fleury’s Estate, J. Fleury’s Sons and finally the Fleury Bissell Company. In an interview with the Toronto Star Jacob recalls “I’ve been there when every brick in the present buildings was laid […] The place was just a rambling shack when I came in from the country and started working there, but it expanded rapidly mainly on the reputation of the famous Fleury plow.”(April 3, 1940).
Jacob worked as a moulder, and later as the foreman of the moulding shop, which meant working in dangerous conditions. In 1880, he was involved in a serious accident when he was pouring moulten iron into a mould and a spark of iron flew into his eye badly searing it (Aurora Banner, April 1880). Fortunately he was able to make a full recovery and didn’t lose his sight like many expected.
In 1937, Jacob celebrated his 92nd birthday working at J. Fleury’s Sons, which wasn’t unusual for him given his opinion on early retirement and holidays: “A holiday is all right if a man hunts or fishes, but what is the use of taking time off to go out to lie down under the beach trees, with snakes crawling around you in the grass and mosquitoes biting you?”(Toronto Star, July 18, 1933).
WILLIAM G. GRAHAM
William Graham worked as a carpenter at the Foundry during the late 1800s and early 1900s. When he was sixteen years old William had an encounter with Joseph Fleury while Joseph was serving as Chairman of the Board of School Trustees. The incident is officially referred to as an accidental shooting and took place when William brought a loaded four-barrelled revolver to school. According to the Aurora Banner, William was explaining the construction of the weapon to a fellow student when it accidently fired and wounded him in the thigh (February 10, 1865). Thankfully the gunshot missed an artery and the boy survived. As for consequences, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution that severely reprimanded the boy, censured his parents for allowing him to carry a pistol, and advised the principal, Mr. Peck, “to expel from the school any pupil who may hereafter bring any description of fire arms on the school premises”
(Aurora Banner, February 10, 1865).
William Lubbock worked as a machinist at the Foundry and in 1895 he was involved in a terrifying accident at the Foundry. When he was engaged with cutting a heavy piece of iron, “a splinter of the iron flew and struck him in the eye penetrating fully an inch, and causing him most intense suffering” (Aurora Banner, June 14, 1895). William was transferred to Toronto immediately and underwent a procedure where a specialist successfully removed the splinter. The Aurora Banner reported that, “It was thought at first that he would lose the sight of his eye altogether but we are pleased to learn there is some hope that he will retain it” (June 14, 1895). Fortunately William was able to return to work, and sixteen years later, he was earning $500 a year and worked 60 hours a week at the Foundry.
Where are the women?
DURING THE LATE 1800s AND EARLY 1900s, occupations that were essential to the business of manufacturing farm implements, such as, a blacksmith, carpenter, moulder, painter, pattern maker, labourer, salesman and accountant, were almost always filled by men. At the time, gendered work roles were common place and it would be incredibly rare to find a female blacksmith employed in a Foundry. According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (2017), in 1891 “41% of women in the labour force were employed as domestics.” This means that they held positions associated with household functions such as: servants, dressmakers, seamstresses, and childcare. Light manufacturing jobs were another type of employment where women could find work and included textiles, culinary work, printing, and other consumer/retail oriented positions.
During the 1900s the composition of the Canadian workforce changed: by 1901 women made up 13.4% of the paid labour force, and by 1921 this would rise to 15.4% with a reduced 21% of women working as “domestics” (Public Service Alliance of Canada, 2017). While the gendered nature of the labour force was beginning to shift, women weren’t being equally compensated for their contributions. If a man and a woman were employed in the same position, and fulfilling the same tasks, there would often be a significant wage gap with the woman earning much less. For example, we know that at J. Fleury’s Sons in 1911, Viola Petch worked as a bookkeeper for 54 hours a week earning $288.00 per year. Daniel Webster worked in the same position, for the same amount of hours each week, and earned $650.00 per year.
Unfortunately wage inequality is still a reality for many women today, and while a lot of progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.
On The Worlds Stage : L’Exposition Universelle Internationale de Paris
We firmly believe that the internet should be available and accessible to anyone, and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience,
regardless of circumstance and ability.
To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level.
These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible
to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.
This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific
disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.
Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML,
adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.
If you’ve found a malfunction or have ideas for improvement, we’ll be happy to hear from you. You can reach out to the website’s operators by using the following email
Screen-reader and keyboard navigation
Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various different behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with
screen-readers are able to read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive
a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements,
alongside console screenshots of code examples:
Screen-reader optimization: we run a background process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website.
In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels;
descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups),
and others. Additionally, the background process scans all of the website’s images and provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag
for images that are not described. It will also extract texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology.
To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on
as soon as they enter the website.
These adjustments are compatible with all popular screen readers, including JAWS and NVDA.
Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
Disability profiles supported in our website
Epilepsy Safe Mode: this profile enables people with epilepsy to use the website safely by eliminating the risk of seizures that result from flashing or blinking animations and risky color combinations.
Visually Impaired Mode: this mode adjusts the website for the convenience of users with visual impairments such as Degrading Eyesight, Tunnel Vision, Cataract, Glaucoma, and others.
Cognitive Disability Mode: this mode provides different assistive options to help users with cognitive impairments such as Dyslexia, Autism, CVA, and others, to focus on the essential elements of the website more easily.
ADHD Friendly Mode: this mode helps users with ADHD and Neurodevelopmental disorders to read, browse, and focus on the main website elements more easily while significantly reducing distractions.
Blindness Mode: this mode configures the website to be compatible with screen-readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. A screen-reader is software for blind users that is installed on a computer and smartphone, and websites must be compatible with it.
Keyboard Navigation Profile (Motor-Impaired): this profile enables motor-impaired persons to operate the website using the keyboard Tab, Shift+Tab, and the Enter keys. Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
Additional UI, design, and readability adjustments
Font adjustments – users, can increase and decrease its size, change its family (type), adjust the spacing, alignment, line height, and more.
Color adjustments – users can select various color contrast profiles such as light, dark, inverted, and monochrome. Additionally, users can swap color schemes of titles, texts, and backgrounds, with over 7 different coloring options.
Animations – epileptic users can stop all running animations with the click of a button. Animations controlled by the interface include videos, GIFs, and CSS flashing transitions.
Content highlighting – users can choose to emphasize important elements such as links and titles. They can also choose to highlight focused or hovered elements only.
Audio muting – users with hearing devices may experience headaches or other issues due to automatic audio playing. This option lets users mute the entire website instantly.
Cognitive disorders – we utilize a search engine that is linked to Wikipedia and Wiktionary, allowing people with cognitive disorders to decipher meanings of phrases, initials, slang, and others.
Additional functions – we provide users the option to change cursor color and size, use a printing mode, enable a virtual keyboard, and many other functions.
Browser and assistive technology compatibility
We aim to support the widest array of browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. Therefore, we have worked very hard to be able to support all major systems that comprise over 95% of the user market share including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge, JAWS and NVDA (screen readers), both for Windows and for MAC users.
Notes, comments, and feedback
Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs, there may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating and improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility, following technological advancements. For any assistance, please reach out to