Grade One: The Local Community

Pre-Visit Activity: Glossary of Important Terms

Hillary House: Specifically called the Hillary House National Historic Site and Koffler Museum of Medicine, this is a house located at 15372 Yonge Street in Aurora, ON, which has now been turned into a special museum run by the Aurora Historical Society. It was originally built for Dr. Walter Geike and his family and was used both as a home and as a doctor’s office. Four different doctors – Dr. Geike, Dr. Frederick Strange, Dr. Robert William Hillary and Dr. Robert Michael Hillary and their families lived in the house. When the Hillary family lived there, they referred to the building as “The Manor.” Today, it is set up to look how it did when the Hillary family lived here (from 1876 onwards), but also has other exhibits throughout the year in special exhibit rooms.

Museum: A place where objects/items that are special for historical, artistic or cultural reasons are kept and often put out for people to see. These objects help people get an idea of what life was like at a different time or in a different place. Hillary House is an example of ONE type of museum – a local museum. There are many other types in Ontario, in Canada and all over the world.

Artifacts: Objects and items that have been made by people that are often displayed in museums.

Community: A group of people that are living and/or working together in the same area, with common goals and/or values.

Aurora: A town in Ontario, Canada where the Hillary House is located. Settlers were first given land here in 1797, but it did not become a proper town until much later. Between 1797 and the 1850s, it grew in size quite a bit, including having the railway came to the area, connecting it with Toronto, in 1853. The following year, in 1854, it got its name of “Aurora” from its first postmaster (Charles Doan). In 1863 it became an incorporated village and 25 years later, in 1888, it was actually designated as a town.

Yonge Street: An important street in Canada that stretches from the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto, all the way north to Lake Simcoe. It was extended far north to the Aurora area starting in 1793, which is probably the beginnings of people starting to settle in this area. It is specifically an important part of Aurora because it runs right through the town and many businesses, homes and schools have been built around it.

Atlas: A book that contains maps and charts. It is used to help people locate different places around the world and find out information about them.

Plow works: A company that specializes in making farm tools (specifically a plow/plough, which is used for digging up ground for farming). The Fleury Plow Works (also called Aurora Agricultural Works) was an important part of early Aurora, because it was one of the first big industries/businesses to start up (1859). Once it did people could farm more land, it provided many jobs to people and other businesses started to pop up too.

Hotel: A place for people to stay when they are from out of town. These became important in Aurora when the train started running because people from Toronto and elsewhere needed places to stay. One of the well-known early Aurora hotels was called the Royal Hotel.

Activities Overview

Activity #1: Doctor’s Tools – Artefact Guessing Game
In pairs or groups, children will get to view tools and equipment that belonged to the doctors who once worked at what is now Hillary House. They will view the artifacts and try to use their inquiry and detective skills to guess what it is, what it was used for and if they’ve seen it at their doctor today (if not, what do we use instead?)

Activity #2: Design your own community!
Through our program, children will look at maps of Aurora and old photos, to get an idea of what was needed in a brand new village/town over one hundred years ago and what we need today. With all of this prior knowledge, they have the opportunity to start their own brand new community!
Students will each get to make a town map for their own imaginary community. They get to make all the decisions about what they want as town-planners, drawing in pictures to represent each location, as well as all of the essentials of a map (compass/North arrow; legend, street names, etc.). On the back of their map drawings, they will use provided space to write a simple explanation of why they decided to choose the features they did, which they can then share with the visiting educator, the teacher and/or their classmates.

Suggested Post-Visit Activities

There are a number of ways you can extend your students’ learning after the visit from an AHS educator. The following are some of the suggestions for how you can do this:

(1) Take a class trip over to Hillary House National Historic Site at 15372 Yonge Street (If you have not already!) to get a better view of how a doctor’s office can work inside of a house – and to see many more doctors’ tools (such as old tonsillectomy kits, syringes and the couch where the doctor performed surgeries!).

(2) If you are within walking distance of Hillary House, take a class trip over, by walking over so that you have time to spot different built features of your community: do you see apartments? Houses? Stores? What types of places have been built for people to use? Why do people need these different places? What natural features are still visible in your community?

(3) Have the Hillary House Educator send you some of the photographs of old Aurora and do a compare and contrast inquiry project as a class or in groups by taking your own pictures of Aurora today, and pointing out all of the features – built and natural – that are different. Why have these changed? How might it change even more in the future?

(4) Have your students pick their favourite artifact(s) that the educator brought in and do some research on how this item is different (or the same) today when used at a doctor’s office. Or, do a compare and contrast inquiry project in groups or as a class of how a certain other type of establishment (such as a grocery store or train station) has changed from over 100 years ago to today.

(5) Learn more about maps! Ask the Hillary House Educator for a copy of the Aurora map from 1878, so that the class can do even more work on maps and mapping. Use this as a starting point to compare with various types of maps (including modern GPS and internet-based technologies).

To see how this program connects to the current Ontario Curriculum click here.