Famous Joseph Fleury Jr. Plows
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The men set up operations on two village lots near the center of Machell's Corners, and ample business came their way. Young Joseph reportedly enjoyed his trade, but was particularly interested in farm equipment experimentation. The signing of the Reciprocity Treaty between Great Britain and the United States in 1854 created an immediate demand for many Canadian products, especially flour. Joseph Jr. and his partners seized the opportunity, recognizing the need Canadian farmers suddenly had for light, durable and strong single-furrow walking plows, as well as other farming implements. He knew the plows would have to be drawn by a team of horses, or more likely, a four-horse hitch, and that they would face difficult soil conditions, especially rocks, boulders and ground roots that were hallmarks of the Canadian fields.
By 1865, though, the blacksmithing partnership failed. Alexander moved on to Markham, where he went into his own blacksmithing business and built plows under the name of A. Fleury and Sons. Joseph Jr. retained the two business lots in Machell's Corners, where he opened the Aurora Agricultural Works and began experimenting with a cast-iron beam for his plows.
Previously, Canada's pioneer farmers bought their plows and other farm equipment primarily from Scotland and England. The imported plows were built mostly with wooden beams, suitable for the well-tilled farms of the old country but not strong enough for Canadian farms.
After five ill-fated attempts, Joseph Jr. successfully designed a stronger plow, which he introduced in 1860 and 1861. It was called the Fleury No. 10 and, after a series of improvements, renamed the "Famous Fleury No. 21" or the "Dandy."
To produce his plow in numbers, Joseph Jr. had to resolve many problems, the biggest being a lack of iron ore. Not enough quality ore was being mined in Canada at the time to meet Fleury's own estimated need of 2 tons each week, let alone that of other manufacturers. Imported pig iron, again coming primarily from Scotland, was expensive, and transportation costs added to its price. Alternately, Joseph Jr. bought all the scrap iron he could locate, including iron stoves, kettles and tools, and used that until Canadian mining interests caught up with domestic demand.