Aurora, Ontario

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Town of Aurora
Aurora Town Hall
Aurora Town Hall
Official seal of Aurora
Official logo of Aurora
"You're in Good Company" - Motto Found on Seal: (Latin): "Sol Meus Testis" (Eng. "The Sun is My Witness")
Location of Aurora within York Region
Location of Aurora within York Region
Aurora is located in Southern Ontario
Aurora in relation to southern Ontario
Coordinates: 44°0′N 79°28′W / 44.000°N 79.467°W / 44.000; -79.467Coordinates: 44°0′N 79°28′W / 44.000°N 79.467°W / 44.000; -79.467
Regional municipalityYork Region
Incorporated1888 (town)
 • MayorTom Mrakas
 • Councilors
 • Total50.00 km2 (19.31 sq mi)
304 m (997 ft)
 • Total62,057 (Ranked 92nd)
 • Density1,241.1/km2 (3,214/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Forward Sortation Area
Area codes905, 289, 365, and 742

Aurora (2021 population: 62,057[1]) is a town in central York Region in the Greater Toronto Area, within the Golden Horseshoe of Southern Ontario, Canada. It is located north of the City of Richmond Hill and is partially situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine. In the Canada 2021 Census, the municipal population of Aurora was the 92nd largest in Canada, compared to 95th for the 2016 Census and 97th for the 2006 Census. Aurora is twinned with Leksand, Sweden.[3]


A map of Aurora from 1878. Scale is denoted in chains, a measure equivalent to 66 feet or 20.12 metres.

Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe gave the order for Yonge Street to be extended to Holland Landing in 1793, the first step toward the establishment of a community where Aurora now stands. Yonge Street opened between 1794 and 1796. In 1795, the first house in Aurora was built at Yonge St and Catherine Av.[4] The government began granting deeds to land in 1797. By 1801 there were fourteen homes.[5]

Establishing a village[edit]

In 1804, Richard Machell became the first merchant at the crossroads of Yonge and Wellington and the hamlet soon became known as Machell's Corners. Charles Doan was another early businessman at Machell's Corners and became the first postmaster and later the first reeve. The post office was originally known as "Whitchurch".[6]: 10  As postmaster, he was influential in renaming the village Aurora, after the goddess Aurora from Roman mythology.[6]: 10 [a] Machell proposed to rename the town "Match-Ville", ostensibly for the match factory in the town, but the name Aurora was more popular and ultimately chosen as the town's name.[6]: 12  Flour and grist mills were built around 1827. With the coming of the railway in 1853, Aurora emerged as an important centre north of Toronto. The Fleury plough works foundry opened in 1859, making agricultural implements.[7]

The community was first known as Machell's Corners and had only 100 residents in 1851.[8] The population of Aurora in 1863 was 700, and by 1869 it had grown to 1,200.[9]

Becoming a town[edit]

The settlement was incorporated as a village in 1863 with Charles Doan as the first reeve. Records from 1885 describe Aurora as the "largest village in the county" an "enterprising and stirring business community" with several factories and mills, five churches, a school house with 210 students, and two weekly newspapers. The population in 1881 was 1540.[10][11] The population reached 2,107 by 1888.

By the turn of the century, many industries moved out of Aurora and as a result, the town suffered a downturn and reverted to its agricultural roots. From then on the town experienced slow growth until the rise of suburbia after the end of the Second World War, when Aurora was rejuvenated and experienced a boom in development due to its proximity to Toronto.

Aurora was the childhood home of Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968, when his father, Rev. Edwin Pearson, was the Methodist minister.[6]: 40 

Recent developments[edit]

For most of the 20th century, development in Aurora centred primarily around its historic downtown core at Yonge and Wellington Streets, bounded on the east by Industrial Parkway. Starting in the early 21st century, the town has expanded eastward beyond Industrial Parkway to Highway 404. Since then, Aurora has grown considerably, with new developments stretching the built boundary of the town to be contiguous with Newmarket in the north and Highway 404 in the east. New developments have pulled the economic focal point within the town increasingly eastward towards Highway 404. Aurora's downtown has suffered economically over the years as a result of recent developments.

Aurora is noted for preserving its historical built form in the older parts of town and in 2008 was awarded The Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership.[12] In 2009, the town received the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership in heritage conservation and promotion.[13] Northeast Old Aurora was designated in 2006 as a provincial Heritage Conservation District.[14]

On April 8, 2010, the town reopened the historic and fully renovated Church Street School as the Aurora Cultural Centre.


Sheppard's Bush Conservation Area

Aurora is situated just north of the Oak Ridges Moraine and borders Newmarket in the north, Richmond Hill in the south, King City in the west and Whitchurch–Stouffville in the east.

Communities and neighbourhoods[edit]


Cherry is a residential area found at the western end of Ridge Road located northwest of Bloomington Road and Yonge Street.


The town main strip is located on Yonge Street at Wellington Street began as Machell's Corners and Whitchurch as post office name.

Hills of St. Andrew[edit]

A residential area around Bathurst Street and St. John Sideroad developed in the 1980s and alongside St. Andrew's College.[15]


A former community centred along Wellington Street and Leslie Street. Settled by Jonathan Petch[16] in 1818 on clergy reserve and was not acquired by Petch as their farm until 1840. The growth was shifted to neighbouring Wesley Corner at the eastside of Petch's farm at Woodbine Avenue. The current community's southside remains less developed when compared to the north which is now a residential subdivision of Aurora North. The community hosts a retail complex (Smart Centre Aurora North), Stornach Aurora Recreational Complex and Magna Golf Course.

White Rose[edit]

White Rose is found near Lebovic Golf Club on Leslie Street north of Bloomington Road and was formerly located within what is now Whitchurch-Stouffville. The former community appeared around 1837 and centred on Samuel Wilton Jr. farm. The Wilton farm had a grist mill producing 999White Rose flour and for which the area was named after.[17] The farm disappeared by the late 19th century due to poor conditions and remained agricultural.


Historical population

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Aurora had a population of 62,057 living in 21,506 of its 22,253 total private dwellings, a change of 11.9% from its 2016 population of 55,445. With a land area of 50 km2 (19 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,241.1/km2 (3,214.5/sq mi) in 2021.[20]

In 2010, average household income in Aurora was $155,463, making it one of Canada's most affluent towns.[21]

As of the 2021 census,[22] English was the mother tongue of 58.8% of Aurora residents. The next most common first languages were Chinese languages (13.4% including 8.1% Mandarin and 5.0% Cantonese), Persian (6.0%), Russian (2.8%), Italian (1.9%) and French (1.0%). 3.3% listed both English and a non-official language as mother tongues, while 0.4% listed both English and French.

In 2021, 60.4% of Aurora's population was white/European, 38.9% were visible minorities, and 0.7% were Indigenous. The largest visible minority groups were Chinese (17.7%), West Asian (7.1%), South Asian (4.0%), Black (1.9%), and Filipino (1.6%).

The most common ethnic origins in Aurora were Chinese (16.7%), English (16.0%), Irish (12.9%), Scottish (12.3%), Italian (10.3%), Canadian (8.9%), German (5.3%), Iranian (5.2%), French n.o.s (4.3%), British Isles, n.o.s. (3.8%), Russian (3.1%), and Polish (3.0%).

50.7% of residents were Christian, down from 67.6% in 2011.[23] 24.5% were Catholic, 12.0% were Protestant, 7.3% were Christian n.o.s, 5.2% were Christian Orthodox and 1.8% belonged to other Christian denominations or Christian-related traditions. 37.3% were non-religious or secular, up from 25.2% in 2011. 11.9% believed in other religions, up from 7.2% in 2011. The largest non-Christian religions in Aurora were Islam (5.8%), Judaism (2.4%), Buddhism (1.3%), and Hinduism (1.3%).


The Town of Aurora municipal government is composed of a mayor and six councillors. As of the 2022 election, the deputy mayor role rotates between councillors and may proxy for the mayor. The mayor is a member of York Regional Council. In the municipal elections of 2022, Tom Mrakas was re-elected mayor. Starting with the 2022 municipal election, the switched to a ward-based system with six wards, electing one mayor and six councillors (one per ward).

The town is part of the federal riding of Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill. The riding is represented in the House of Commons of Canada by Leah Taylor Roy, a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, who was first elected in the 2021 federal election. Aurora is also part of the provincial riding of Newmarket—Aurora. The member of Provincial Parliament is Christine Elliott, who was elected in the 2018 Ontario general election. Elliot belongs to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Emergency services[edit]

Local police services are provided by the York Regional Police, who are currently headquartered within the town and serve all of the municipalities of the region. Fire protection services are provided by Central York Fire Services, a shared arrangement with the town of Newmarket.

Public health services are managed by York Region. There is currently no hospital within Aurora's boundaries; the nearest is Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.


Aurora is served by schools from three publicly funded school boards: the York Region District School Board (the English Public Board), the York Catholic District School Board (the English Catholic Board), and Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir (the French-language Catholic Board). The Conseil scolaire Viamonde (the secular French-language board) also has Aurora in its territory.

Both publicly funded English boards maintain head offices in Aurora. The York Region District School Board is located at 60 Wellington Street West, just west of the historical downtown area, and the York Catholic District School Board is located at 320 Bloomington Road West. Both boards operate a number of elementary schools in Aurora. Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir operates one elementary school and one secondary school in Aurora.

The York Region District School Board operates ten public elementary schools within the Town of Aurora:

  • Aurora Heights Public School.
  • Aurora Grove Public School.
  • Wellington Public School.
  • Regency Acres Public School.
  • Northern Lights Public School.
  • Highview Public School.
  • Hartman Public School.
  • Devins Drive Public School.
  • Rick Hansen Public School.
  • Lester B. Pearson Public School.

The York Region District School Board operates two high schools in Aurora:

The York Catholic District School Board currently operates five public Catholic elementary schools within Aurora:

  • Our Lady of Grace Elementary School.
  • St. Jerome Catholic Elementary School.
  • Holy Spirit Elementary School.
  • St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School.
  • Light of Christ Catholic Elementary School.

The York Catholic District School Board operates two high schools in Aurora:

Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir operates one elementary school in the Town of Aurora:

  • École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean.

Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir operates one high school in Aurora:

  • École secondaire catholique Renaissance (formerly ÉSC Cardinal-Carter).

St. Andrew's College, a private, independent school for boys, also operates in Aurora. Two other private educational institutions, Aurora Preparatory Academy and Aurora Montessori School are found in Aurora.

Aurora residents have access to a wide range of other educational facilities including daycares and nurseries. The Aurora Public Library is a public library funded and operated by the town.

Growth and urban planning[edit]

A large area in the southeastern part of Aurora is designated as protected under Ontario Government's Greenbelt legislation which enforces limits on growth in designated Green Belt locations. The majority of future growth will be split between currently undeveloped portions Aurora along Leslie Street and St John's sideroad, along with intensification within existing built-up areas. The stretch of Yonge Street within Aurora has been designated as a "Regional Corridor" by York Region and will likely accommodate the majority of intensification, with upgrades to the Viva bus rapid transit system being anticipated.

The portion of the 2C Lands between Highway 404 and Leslie Street has been designated as a significant employment zone by the region and the town. Construction has commenced on the lands, which are anticipated to provide approximately 6,000 jobs at full build-out. The town's Official Plan includes for major office growth to occur in the area. Residential growth is restricted to the west side of Leslie Street, which has seen several new developments of detached homes, townhouses, and condominium apartments in the late 2010s.

The Regional Municipality of York has proposed the area surrounding Aurora GO Station to be designated as a Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). Under this designation, the area would undergo intensification and experience an increased density of jobs and residents.

As of 2020, the Town of Aurora is conducting a review and update of its Official Plan.[24]

The Aurora Promenade[edit]

As part of the town's 2010 Official Plan review, a sub-committee of Council developed a plan in 2010, called the Aurora Promenade, that sets out new and redevelopment for the coming years.[25] More than 30 public meetings, open-houses and workshops were held to create the plan. It is anticipated that 2,930 additional residents will live along the Yonge and Wellington Street corridors, close to new major transportation systems being implemented by Viva. The study was expected to stimulate new and redevelopment along both corridors in the coming years and to reinvigorate the downtown core.

The plan may be subject to change pending the 2020 Official Plan Review.

Aurora Town Square[edit]

In 2020, the Aurora Town Council approved and commenced the construction of Aurora Town Square (previously referred to under the working title of Library Square), a new Town Square to be located directly between the Aurora Public Library building and the Aurora Cultural Centre (previously the Church Street School). The project will include the construction of a new performing arts centre directly adjacent to the Aurora Cultural Centre and a covered pedestrian footbridge to connect the new performing arts building with the library building.

The Capital Project Budget for the Square is a total of $51.6 million and is being implemented as part of a long-term strategy to transform and revitalize Aurora's ailing downtown core.[26]


The Aurora Public Library is located in the northeast corner of the intersection of Yonge Street and Church Street. A library was first established in Aurora in 1855, and was moved to the current location in 2001. The library is open seven days a week, but closed on Sundays between May 17 and September 11, and between December 20 and January 2.


Historic Aurora Train Station


Major roads running through Aurora include Bathurst Street at its western border, Yonge Street, Bayview Avenue, Leslie Street, Bloomington Road at the southern border with The City of Richmond Hill, Wellington Street, and St. Johns Sideroad located approximately 100 metres (330 ft) south of the border with The Town of Newmarket. Wellington Street is the town's major east-west road, with the Yonge-Wellington area having the busiest traffic volume in Aurora.

The town is serviced by Highway 404, located at its eastern border with the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. It is serviced by two interchanges at Bloomington Rd E. (shared with Richmond Hill) and Wellington Rd E. There is also a currently unfunded proposal for a future interchange to be built at St. John's Sideroad.[citation needed]

Public transit[edit]

The Town of Aurora is serviced by York Region Transit (YRT), including several local routes as well as its Viva Blue Bus Rapid Transit service.[27] There are also plans to link the Newmarket and Richmond Hill Yonge Street Rapidway segments through portions of Aurora, though funding has not yet been allocated for the proposal.

The Aurora GO Station is a stop on GO Transit's Barrie Line. Trains depart approximately every 15–30 minutes southbound towards Toronto during weekday morning peak periods, and northbound towards Barrie approximately every 30 minutes during the afternoon peak. On evenings, weekends, holidays, as well as during the weekday midday period, trains operate approximately every hour between Aurora and Toronto with GO Bus connections at Aurora to and from Barrie.[28]

Under the GO Transit Regional Express Rail plan, by a target date of 2024 service will be increased to run every 15 minutes during peak, midday, evenings, and weekends between Aurora and Toronto using electric trains rather than the current diesel trains, and every along the full route between Barrie and Toronto every 30 minutes during peak and every 60 minutes off-peak.[29] This will include upgrades to Aurora GO Station as well as a second track and a grade-separation project at Wellington Street.


Local media include Metroland-owned The Banner (formerly the Era Banner) and The Auroran (a member of the Simcoe York Group of Newspapers) newspapers and Aurora programming provided by Rogers Cable (formerly Aurora Cable Internet).


Radio stations from Toronto are typically available, as in the nearby towns of Newmarket, south into Richmond Hill and Bradford.


Aurora has a long history of theatre, with its own community theatre group, Theatre Aurora. Founded in 1958 as the Aurora Drama Workshop, the group joined with the Aurora Musical Society in 1973 to form Theatre Aurora. The next year the group moved into its current home at the Factory Theatre on Henderson Drive. The group has performed a wide variety of shows, and currently produces five shows each year, along with two youth shows.[30]

A new performing-arts facility is to be built as part of the "Library Square" project. It is not currently determined if Theatre Aurora will relocate to the new facility or not once it is complete.


The auto parts giant Magna International, founded by Frank Stronach, is based in Aurora.

TC Transcontinental has a printing plant for magazines in Aurora, formerly operated by Quebecor World and Quad/Graphics.


Hillary House and Koffler Museum of Medicine

The Aurora armoury is a recognized Federal Heritage building, listed in 1991 on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings.[31]

Aurora is also home to Hillary House and Koffler Museum of Medicine. Hillary House is recognized by the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board as one of Canada's best examples of Gothic Revival architecture.[32]


Aurora FC is a semi-professional soccer team that plays in League1 Ontario in both the men's and women's divisions. It is also a youth soccer club.[33]

The Aurora Tigers is the town's ice hockey club, part of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, with their home arena within the Aurora Community Centre.[34]

Notable residents[edit]

"Home of Robert Thomas" city sign in Aurora

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The source mistakenly refers to Aurora as being from Greek mythology. The Greek goddess of dawn is Eos.


  1. ^ a b "Aurora, Town Ontario (Census Subdivision)". Census Profile, Canada 2021 Census. Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  2. ^ "Aurora". Canadian Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009.
  3. ^ "Council Meeting Minutes, Tuesday, December 10, 2013" (PDF). Town of Aurora. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  4. ^ Johnston, James (1972). Aurora: Its Early Beginnings. Aurora District Historical Society. p. 17.
  5. ^ "Historical Plaques of York County". Wayne Cook. pp. Plaque #19. Archived from the original on 25 March 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d McIntyre, W. John (1988). Aurora: A history in pictures. Boston Mills Press. ISBN 0-919783-81-3.
  7. ^ "Historical Plaques of York County". Wayne Cook. pp. Plaque #20. Archived from the original on 25 March 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  8. ^ G. Mercer Adam, Charles Pelham Mulvany, Christopher Blackett Robinson (1885). History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario. C. Blackett Robinson. p. 185.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ McEvoy, Henry (1869). The Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory. Toronto, Ontario: Robertson & Cook. p. 36. ISBN 9780665094125. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  10. ^ G. Mercer Adam, Charles Pelham Mulvany, Christopher Blackett Robinson (1885). History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario. C. Blackett Robinson. p. 186.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Aurora and North King". Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  12. ^ Town of Aurora Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Ontario Heritage Trust media release Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "List of Heritage Conservation Districts". Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. Government of Ontario. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  15. ^ "St. Andrews on the Hill".
  16. ^ Adam, Graeme Mercer; Mulvany, Charles Pelham; Robinson, Christopher Blackett (1885). "History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario: Containing an Outline of the History of the Dominion of Canada; a History of the City of Toronto and the County of York, with the Townships, Towns, General and Local Statistics; Biographical Sketches".
  17. ^ "Wilton Barn". Parks Canada. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census: Aurora". Statistics Canada. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  19. ^ "1991 Census Highlights" (PDF). Statistics Canada. p. 9. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  20. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions (municipalities), Ontario". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  21. ^ Demographics and Income, Town of Aurora, retrieved April 27, 2012.
  22. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-02-09). "Profile table, Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population - Aurora, Town (T) [Census subdivision], Ontario". Retrieved 2023-01-17.
  23. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2013-05-08). "2011 National Household Survey Profile - Census subdivision". Retrieved 2023-01-17.
  24. ^ "Town of Aurora Official Plan Review web page". Town of Aurora. October 20, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  25. ^ "The Aurora Promenade". Town of Aurora. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Aurora Town Square, the project includes". Town of Aurora. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  27. ^ "YRT System Map". York Region Transit. 17 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Barrie GO Train and Bus Schedule" (PDF). GO Transit. January 5, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  29. ^ "Barrie Line RER". Metrolinx. 17 April 2018.
  30. ^ "History of Theatre Aurora". Theatre Aurora. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  31. ^ "Armoury 89 Mosley Street, Aurora, Ontario, Canada". Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  32. ^ "Hillary House National Historic Site, The Koffler Museum of Medicine". Aurora Historical Society. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  33. ^ John Cudmore (December 18, 2015). "Soccer's League 1 Ontario adds Aurora sides to 2016 roster". Aurora Banner.
  34. ^ "Aurora Tigers". OJHL Aurora Tigers. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  35. ^ Francone, Patrick. "A Little Bit of Aurora in Manhattan". Website. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  36. ^ "Notable Interments". Aurora Cemetery. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  37. ^ The Travelling Historian: New York
  38. ^ Weir, Brock (2020-07-02). "Sportscaster joins forces with Museum to share story of Canada's Birthday Town". The Auroran. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  39. ^ John Cudmore (14 October 2011). "Aurora's Murphy back with OHL,Rangers". York Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  40. ^ Smith, Doug (August 9, 2019). "Aurora teen Andrew Nembhard just might be ready to take on the basketball world". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  41. ^ "39 Catherine Ave". Aurora Heritage Buildings. Town of Aurora. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  42. ^ Teresa Latchford (June 21, 2017). "Aurora to welcome visitors from twin town, Leksand, Sweden". Metroland Media Group Ltd. Retrieved November 23, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Johnston, James (1972). Aurora: Its early beginnings (2nd ed.). Aurora and District Historical Society.

External links[edit]