Present Day Business Leaders

Today, Aurora is home to nearly 2,200 businesses and 65,000 residents. Aurora is known as one of Canada’s wealthiest communities, not only for the education and success of its people, but also for its wealth and abundance of its natural heritage. Today, the pride of Aurora can be heard loud and clear from the many business leaders that make Aurora their home.

Emerging Aurora

Historic Aurora Business Leaders

Aurora was founded in 1854, incorporated as a village in 1863, and later reclassified as the Town of Aurora in 1888. The first merchant was Richard Machell, when in 1804, he opened his business at Yonge and Wellington, which became known as Machell’s Corners. Charles Doan, another business leader, became the first postmaster and it is said that he was part of the naming of Aurora. Below is a collection of the movers and shakers of Aurora's past, compiled by Aurora Museum and Archives. 

 Florence Allen (1894-1968)
Florence Allen was a determined woman who endured much tragedy and enjoyed

much success in her life. She came to Aurora in 1928 a widow with a young son. She
purchased the large house now at 140 Yonge St, and operated it as a popular
restaurant and inn for travellers for more than 15 years, with her new husband
assisting with the upkeep of the grounds. Her son Lloyd would grow to be an ace
fighter pilot in World War II, but died tragically in the week following D-Day in 1944.

  • Born in 1894 in Montreal
  • Married Thomas Alonzo Chadburn, one son Lloyd
  • Thomas died in 1925, Florence and Lloyd came to Aurora in 1928
  • Purchased Poplar Villa (The Chateau) in 1929
  • Married Frank Allen and took his name
  • Operated “The Chateau” as popular restaurant and inn, served only three entrees:Porterhouse Steak, Fried chicken, or Salad
  • Would rent out Lloyd’s room, a small outbuilding, when all rooms occupied
  • Lloyd V. Chadburn DSO*, DFC, died June 13, 1944, in a mid-air collision between two Spitfire planes in Normandy
  • Received Lloyd’s final medals: Bar to DSO, French Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honour in 1945
  • Sold Chateau to one of Lloyd’s best friends, Norman Bretz, in 1946.
  • Died 3 May, 1968, in Toronto
 Charles Doan (1808-1895)
Charles Doan, known as the man who named Aurora, went in his life from antigovernment rebel to Postmaster, Reeve and Councillor. Charles was a member of the Children of Peace religious sect, and was imprisoned for his part in the 1837

Rebellion. A decade later, he would be named the first postmaster of Whitchurch, a
station renamed Aurora in 1854, and where he would work until 1882. He would serve as the first Reeve for the town in 1863 and again in ’67 and ’68. He was a founding member and lifelong President of the Aurora Cemetery Company, and was responsible for the construction of the iconic Dead House on its grounds.

  • Born in 1808 near Newmarket, family joined Children of Peace in Sharon in 1818
  • Learned farming and shoemaking
  • Married in 1831 to Mary Willson, daughter of his church’s leader David Willson.
  • Marched with other rebels in 1837 on Toronto, imprisoned for five months
  • Son, David Willson Doan, born while Charles was in prison
  • Was appointed the first Postmaster of the Whitchurch post office in 1846, office housed in Castle Doan at Yonge and Catherine Streets
  • Remarried Catherine following death of Mary, 1850
  • Oversaw the Post-Office name change from Whitchurch to Aurora in 1954, a position he held until 1882.
  • President of Aurora Cemetery Company from 1868 until his death
  • Lifelong advocate of Temperance and a member of the Methodist Church.
  • Died 18 June of 1895, outliving all 7 of his children.
 Thelma Fielding (1898-1960)
Thelma Fielding had wanted to be a lawyer since her youth, but her parents wouldn’t

allow it. She moved through the farming, hospitality, and sales industries before
coming to work for the town Solicitor, gaining renown and winning a council seat in
December of 1950. Her 1 year term as councillor broke the mold and Aurora would see an increasing number of women candidates, councillors, and eventually Mayor.

  • Born Thelma Gray, 19 Jan 1898
  • Married Earl Clifford Fielding & lived on a farm on Stouffville
  • During depression came to Aurora with help of Florence Allen (formerly Chadburn)
  • Worked with Mrs. Allen running a Tea Room
  • Joined the Spirella Corset company as a District Organizer for 10 years
  • Worked in the town Solicitor’s office when her campaign began
  • Desired to see more women in politics and felt that leading by example would help
  • 1950 First Woman Councillor in Aurora, one year
  • Laid the path for Jean Moffat and Evelyn Buck and other women politicians in Aurora. (Aurora Council)
  • Died 20 Nov, 1960
 Joseph Fleury (1833-1880)
Joseph Fleury’s ambition and acumen took him from humble blacksmith to celebrated

industrialist and local political figure, with his Aurora-made plows cutting furrows
around the world.

  • Born 1833
  • Opened blacksmith shop, 1850s, foundry 1859
  • Married Ann Hughes, 1859, children Herbert, Clara and William
  • Opened Aurora Agricultural Works
  • Elected Chairman of the Board of School Trustees in 1865, next 5 years on city council
  • Elected Reeve in 1873, re-elected every year until his death in 1880
  • Re-marries his deceased wife’s sister in 1874
  • Construction of Inglehurst on Yonge between Catherine and Maple Sts. 1876
  • Hosted PM Alexander Mackenzie in 1877
  • Died Sept 23, 1880, age 47
  • Legacy of manufacturing and civil service through his children.
 Richard Machell (1793-1868)

One of the first settlers in Aurora was Richard Machell who was the first merchant to start a business at the Yonge & Wellington corner in the 1830s. The "general store and Trading Centre" at Wellington and Yonge became a central meeting place for farmers in the area. Richard was a Loyalist, Anglican and a member of the Family Compact of Upper Canada & St. George's Society. There were Eight children born here in Aurora between 1817-1834, and several businesses were run by family members for over 100 years.

Fun fact: the Machell name is pronounced by family as "Ma-shell", and commonly pronounced today as "May-chell".

Richard was a driving force in the establishment and growth of the town. He was a fiercely independent and principled, who served on the 2nd and 3rd Town Councils for Aurora in the 1860s and his influence is still present today, in all corners of the town. 

  • Richard was a Merchant, Importer & Exporter, owned a brewery in Toronto, and at one time was the owner of Montgomery's Tavern
  • Filed the first plan to subdivide 30 acres of his land into lots on the Northeast side on Wellington in 1853
  • 1838, StockHolder/ Officer of Upper Canada Farmer's Bank, and held stocks with The Bank of Canada
  • 1840's StockHolder of the Ontario and Simcoe Huron Union Railway, later the Northern Railway of Canada, which was later acquired by the Grand Trunk Railway
  • By 1843 Richard owned 3 of the 4 corners of land at the intersection of Young & Wellington with the exception of the Northwest Corner
  • In 1847 Richard constructed Machell's Wharf, West of Fredrick Street, later the area was known as the Espanade, and had a store at Palace Street near George Toronto
  • Elected Councillor to the New Town of Aurora in 1864 & 1865
  • 1860 Richard had a Hotel named after him called the Queens Hotel (Originally named Machell House) This stood on the intersection where his store was situated.  It was Auroras largest and most elegant hotel until it was demolished in 1971 to make way for the TD Bank which remains there today.
  • Died in 1868

*Special thank you to the Machell family historians for assisting in the contribution of the Richard Machell history. 

 William Henry Taylor (1863-1947)
William, known as “Henry” to most, was a prominent citizen during decades of growth and technological advancement of his time. Henry not only served and stayed with the local regiment from the 1880s through the First World War, he was a prominent local businessman, town assessor, and court clerk. He was born and died in his house at 61 Wellington Street, a true Auroran his entire life.
  • Born at 61 Wellington Street, May 24th, 1863
  • Joined York Rangers and served at Northwest Resistance/Rebellion as Color Sergeant
  • Glazier and painter for 40 years
  • Installed windows in new 22 Church St. School, 1886, replaced those broken in 1893 cyclone
  • Married Sarah Pett, 1887, son Frederick Norman born in 1890s
  • Rose through ranks of York Rangers to command “B” Company for decades, eventually earned rank of Captain
  • Contracted Smallpox, 1909
  • Escorted volunteers to Valcartier to join the First Contingent to leave for World War 1, 1914
  • Served as Town Assessor & Sixth Division Court Clerk from 1920s-1945.
  • Lifelong Freemason, 50 years with Rising Sun Lodge.
  • Died in his home, Nov 28 1947, age 84.
 J.M Walton (1866-1945)
Born in 1866 in Kettleby, Jesse Walton was involved for years in civil service as

postmaster and treasurer before moving to Aurora and opening a bank on Yonge St.
He involved himself in many local movements and groups, eventually serving as mayor for a total of 7 terms. A historian and author, Jesse also formed a prodigious
collection of artifacts and archival items, many of which survive as a core of the items held by the Aurora Museum & Archives.

  • Born 1866 in Kettleby
  • Served, following his father, as postmaster for kettleby and treasurer for King Township
  • Opened bank on Yonge St 1896, moved to East side of Yonge 1909
  • Elected Mayor 1923-28, took position due to vacancy in 1940
  • Middle initial “M” was self-given and was to differentiate him from other J. Waltons in the family.
  • Historian and author, wrote articles for Aurora Banner about local history
  • Worked during both wars for Victory Loan campaigns
  • Lifelong advocate for Liberal politics, Temperance, and Yonge St. improvement
  • Collected thousands of archival materials and artifacts
  • Died 13 Sept 1945
  • Collection saved from dissociation by T.H. Oliver in late 1940s
  • Those items formed the founding collection of the Aurora Historical Society, much of which was transferred to the town in 2014.
 J.F. Willis (1889-1968)
John Francis Willis was in the middle of a tri-generational pharmaceutical legacy. His

father Charles Willis was the operator of the pharmacy in Medical Hall on Yonge Street under the qualifications of owner Dr. Rutherford. When John earned his certification in 1910, the family bought the business, and with his own son John Farrar Willis becoming certified in 1937, the Willis name would appear on the popular pharmacy for nearly 60 years.

  • Born in 1889 to Charles and Ruth Willis in Aurora
  • Completed pharmacy college in 1910
  • purchased business in Medical Hall from Dr. Rutherford with his father Charles c. 1910
  • Married Louise Whelan 1912, children John Farrar, Constance and Robert
  • Sarah died in 1919 during Spanish Flu epidemic
  • John Sr. remarries Sadie Towns, two more children
  • Father Charles died in 1923, John becomes sole owner
  • John Jr. works alongside his father from 1937
  • John Jr. takes over business in 1955, name and certification the same
  • John Francis died 14 Oct 1968

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