Since it was founded in the 1800s astride the famous Yonge Street, Aurora grew from a quiet farming community into a thriving town. Its growth was supported by industries such as the J. Fleury's Son manufacturers, and was where future Canadian prime minister, Lester Pearson, grew up. Today many fascinating and important heritage buildings from the mid to late 19th Century have survived, giving the town a unique and distinct character.
This project is a partnership with the Aurora Museum & Archives and the Town of Aurora.
We respectfully acknowledge that Aurora is on the traditional territories of the Anishinabewaki, Huron-Wendat, and Haudenosaunee peoples.
Then and Now Photos
Streetcar on Yonge
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This scene looking south on Yonge at Wellington was taken around 1910, after John Francis Willis purchased Dr. Rutherford's Drug Store.
Aurora from Afar
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Yonge Street looking north toward Aurora from Hutchinson's Hill.
A Class Photo
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Aurora Public School students and teachers posing on the front steps.
A group of men and young boys gather outside of Aurora's "skyscraper" Medical Hall circa 1890. When the drugstore finally opened in 1886 it had transitioned ownership to Dr. John Rutherford and was managed by Charles A. Willis. Impressively, the drugstore business remained in association with the Willis family for over eighty years. In 1910 Charles' son John F. took over the drugstore, and Charles' grandson, also named John F., operated a pharmacy there until 1969. The oriel window on the second floor and the unique brick cornice are just two of the building's distinguishing architectural features.
Boys on Tyler Street
Boys on Tyler Street. Notice the homes remains the same.
This steel water tower was erected in 1906 and could hold 50,000 gallons of water, which was sourced from two artesian wells. It was replaced in 1931 with a standpipe style water tower.
The Dead House
Entrance to the Aurora Cemetery, which was established in 1869. The building is known as the Dead House and was constructed in 1868.
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House and Tailor's shop at 38 Wellington Street.
House on Victoria Street
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A family poses in front of their home on Victoria Street.
J. Fleury's Sons
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Group of workers outside of J. Fleury's Sons.