Hillary House History

Family Portraits (click for larger image)
Family Portraits (click for larger image)
The story of Hillary House is centred on the four medical families who lived here. This has been outlined in an essay by Michael Wills, “The Doctors of 72 Yonge Street North,” now 15372 Yonge Street, The Manor, or Hillary House. This was originally written to commemorate the unveiling of a plaque by the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada at Hillary House in 1975.

Where shall we live? … Where can we hope to find a house which will be suitable for ourselves, six children and a small income? … We must have a good sized dining room, small drawing-room, and a breakfast room, which may be converted into a school room. It must have a nursery and five good bedrooms; a chaise-house and stable, for the pony and carriage; a large garden and three or four acres of land for we must keep a cow. It must not be more than eight miles from town or two from the station; it must be in a good neighbourhood.

Our Farm of Four Acres, Chapman & Hall, London, 1871.
(The copy at The Manor bears the flourishing inscription,
“R.W. Hillary, M.D., C.M., The Manor, Aurora, Ont., Oct. 1876”.)

In 1876 the brick house at 72 Yonge Street North [Now 15372 Yonge Street] was bought by an apothecary’s apprentice who had left Ireland after the years of famine and settled in Aurora. Its first two occupants had been young and ambitious, staying only briefly in Aurora on their way to prominent medical careers in Toronto, but Dr. Robert W. Hillary in middle years found the house on Yonge Street a haven for his family and the gratifying centre of a large village practice. His descendants lived there until 1992 under a life estate agreement with The Aurora Historical Society who took possession of the property in 1981.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let us take the stories of the four doctors in order:

Adapted, with permission, from the essay, “The Doctors of 72 Yonge Street North” by Michael Wills from the booklet Hillary House (“The Manor”) by John McIntyre and Michael Wills, published in 1975 by the Aurora Historical Society.