Society’s Early Work
Under the direction of its first president, G. Leslie Oliver, the Society set to work in the 1960s, taping interviews with senior citizens and gathering artifacts, documents, and pictures from its community. These artifacts were eventually held in a small storage room in Aurora’s municipal office and this marked the beginning of a growing partnership between AHS and the Town of Aurora.
The AHS collection grew considerably with the purchase of the J.M. Walton Collection. Walton, a former Aurora mayor, had gathered a collection of Aurora and King Township artifacts and papers in the hope of opening a museum. Eventually that collection became part of his estate and was sold by his family to the Aurora Historical Society.
Meanwhile, the AHS continued its other work in the community, holding meetings with guest speakers at the Wells Street School or Victoria Hall, organizing occasional tours, and undertaking to research the history of houses built in Aurora before Confederation and mark them as “Centennial Homes”.
Further, the Society successfully approached the Province of Ontario to erect a plaque at the Aurora railway station in order to draw attention to that site’s significance. Together with the Concerned Citizens of Aurora, the AHS blocked the development of a motor hotel immediately north of Hillary House and combined its forces with ENDOW (Ensure Natural Development of Wellington) to stop the widening of Wellington Street East to four lanes. To better prepare itself for the future, the Society revised its constitution, incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, and gained status as a registered charity.
In 1981 the Society moved the Aurora Museum to the second floor of the Church Street School and entered into a financial arrangement with the Town whereby it was able to hire its first Curator/Administrator, Jacqueline Stuart.