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Off to War

During times of war, the Aurora Armoury and surrounding Town Park played an active role in Canada’s national defence network.

A black and white photograph of a large group of soldiers standing to the left of a wooden building; a mounted officer is in the foreground; trees and houses in the background

Col. Robert M. Hillary on horse “Dolly” with troops outside the Drill Shed, WWI


A black and white photograph of a brass band in uniforms with hats standing under trees in a park; front row kneeling; all fifteen members hold an instrument

Aurora Band in Town Park, c. 1915

On February 15, 1915, the town gathered at the Armoury to bid farewell to privates Thomas Crosskill, William Stone and Chas. Lancely who were leaving for the front with the Second Canadian Contingent. The Citizen Band led the large group in procession from Town Park to the local arena a few blocks away where the boys were surrounded by their family and friends. Private Crosskill had worked at Sisman Shoe Company in Aurora before enlisting, and fought in battles at Ypres, the Somme, and Vimy Ridge. He was tragically killed in action on April 23, 1918.

After the war, Town Park was the chosen site for the official York County Welcome for the Returned Soldiers in July, 1919. The day featured multiple sporting events and three bands to entertain the estimated 8,000 people waiting to welcome home their loved ones.

Joyous emotion and relief fell over Aurora again when Germany surrendered to the allies on May 7th, 1945.

A somewhat blurry black and white photograph of a large gathering of people, most with their backs facing the camera, in a park surrounding a raised platform at the left side with four posts bearing Union Jack flags, upon which are seated about a dozen people; large white clad building and several trees and houses in the background

The crowd gathers in Town Park for VE Day celebrations, May 7, 1945


Two black and white photographs of a bonfire in a park setting; top image taken during the day depicts a large pile of wooden items surrounded by a temporary snow fence; bottom photo take at night depicts a lit bonfire with numerous people gathered around

Massive pile of wood in place for the evening bonfire


Factories, businesses, and schools closed and Aurorans paraded through the Town, which was quickly decorated with banners, flags, and bunting. By the afternoon, a stage with loud speakers had been set up in Town Park. People from all over came to the Park to celebrate and sing around a massive bonfire.