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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part III: Village of Aurora


AURORA, being situated on Yonge Street, about twenty-five miles north of Toronto, lies partly in the Township ot Whitchurch and partly in King. It is the largest village in the county, the population, according to the census of 1881, being 1,540. It was formerly known as Machell's Corners, and in 1851 the num-d ber of inhabitants was estimated at about a hundred. In 1871 the population numbered 1.132. Aurora was incorporated as a village on January 1st, 1863, the first municipal officials being Charles Doan, reeve; Seth Ashton, Robert Boyd, James Halladay and G. S. Stevenson, councillors; Charles York, clerk and treasurer. The officials for 1884 are, A. Yule, reeve; William Ough, deputy reeve, and S. II. Lundy, clerk and treasurer.

One of the most noteworthy events in the history of the village was the delivery of Mr. Edward Blake's celebrated "Aurora Speech,'' at a political demonstration held here on the 3rd of October, 1874, which was intended to foreshadow a new departure 11 the Eiberal policy, and caused much political controversy at the tune. The gathering took place in the drill shed at the head of Moseley Street, about 2,000 persons being present. The chairman of the meeting was Mr. Nelson Gorham, of Newmarket, a veteran Reformer, who in his younger days took a prominent part in connection with Mackenzie's insurrection. Mr. Blake, in what he then described as a " disturbing speech," took strong ground in favour of the encouragement of Canadian national sentiment, and the assertion by Canadians of the right to more complete self-government than hitherto accorded them. On this point he said:

"For my own part, I believe that while it was not unnatural, not unreasonable, pending that process of development which has been going on in our new and sparsely-settled country, that we should have been quite willing—we, so few in numbers, so busied in our local concerns, so engaged in subduing the earth and settling up the country—to leave the cares and rrivileires to which I have referred in the hands of the parent State, the time will come when that national spirit which has been spoken of will be truly felt amongst us, when we shall realize that we are four millions of Britons who are not free; when we shall be ready to take up that freedom, and to ask what the late Prime Minister of England assured us should not be denied—our share of national rights." The speech created a sensation in political circles, and the controversy which ensued inspired strong hopes among men of progressive view's ; but the repressive influences were too powerful, and the movement, though exciting a temporary enthusiasm among the younger element, came to nothing.

Aurora is an enterprising and stirring business community. It contains several factories and mills, five churches, and -two weekly newspapers are published there, the Banner, of Reform politics, and the Aurora Boreal is, Conservative.

The recent erection of a handsome white brick Episcopal place of worship, upon an attractive site, has contribute.! materially to the architectural beauty of the village. It takes the place of the church opened on the 27th of September, 1846. The lirst Church of England service in Aurora was held m 1843, in a private house, by Rev. George Street. After the building of the church the Rev. Septimus Ramsay officiated from 1848 to 1859. In i860 the Rev. H. W. Stewart was appointed incumbent, and the year following he was succeeded by the Rev. J. II. MaCoHum, during whose pastorate the present parsonage was erected, Mr. McCollum being a large contributor to the fund for that purpose. It was built by the united subscriptions of the three congregations of Aurora, Oak Ridges and Xing, and cost $3,000. In 1871 the Rev. A. J. Fidler succeeded to the incumbency, and remained in charge until 1878, when the Rev. C. W. Paterson was appointed. During his incumbency the parish of King was separated from Aurora and Oak Ridges. On the death of Mr. Paterson, m 1881, the Rev. E. Horace Mussen, the present incumbent, succeeded him. Mr. Mussen is a graduate of Trinity College, Toronto.

In this village the school-house, though substantial, is old and out ot keeping with the improvements growing up around it and the unusually rapid development of the place. It is of brick and affords insufficient accommodation for the school populaf'on. The teachers are M. H. Thompson, principal, and Misses Bretta Barron, E. Ruth Dickson and Mary E. Rough. Average attendance, 210.


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