Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Aurora Armoury, The Inside Job

A big change for the Aurora Armoury at the Town Park is happening now. The Aurora Armoury built in 1874 is one of the oldest armouries in Ontario, also called a Drill Shed for the 12th Battalion of Infantry or York Rangers. In addition, the building also served as an alternative community space, “Live at the Armoury!” In 2007, The Ontario Heritage Trust and the Queen’s York Rangers unveiled a provincial plaque to commemorate the Aurora Armoury.

In 2014, Town of Aurora purchased this historical building located on the corner of Mosley Street and Larmont Street from the federal government and in 2017 Town Council approved $4 million in the 2018 capital budget to renovate the inside and restore the outside of the Armoury. The restored Armoury will house Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI).

Aurora Armoury

Edward Blake’s “Aurora Speech” of October 3, 1874, took place at the Armoury, “… the prominent politician and former Ontario premier called upon the federal government of Liberal Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie to implement nationalistic and electoral reforms. The speech exemplifies how drill halls and armouries fulfil civic roles in the lives of their communities. This purpose-built armoury is one of the oldest in Ontario.” Source: Aurora Armoury, Ontario Heritage Site.

I had a quick opportunity to see the inside of the building after the walls were stripped and asbestos cleaned up. Features of the building on the inside were uncovered, former window frames and the back large door frame facing Town Park. Here is one of the older images I could find of the Aurora Armoury from the early 1900s, “Cadet Inspection, c. 1920” and “School Track and Field, c. 1930.”

In 1970 photos show Aurora Armoury with potentially its first siding, and the windows and back door still facing the Town Park. Note the red roof, “Queen’s York Rangers- Cadet Program, c. 1970s.” It seems like the siding on the outside was replaced again to what it is now with no back door. Note the latest roof is green. Of what I could see that day the building very much resembles a barn style structure on the inside and over the years the building was constantly renewed, as it will be again in 2018.

I must admit that I didn’t really find this building intriguing until the renovations started.

Aurora Armoury
Aurora Armoury
Former Cllr Abel (right) and Mr. Downey (left).

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON

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