Famous Joseph Fleury Jr. Plows

The Fleury family, led by youngest son Joseph Fleury Jr., made their mark on agricultural implement manufacturing in Canada.

| March 2003

Editor's note: Joseph Fleury Jr., launched an agricultural implement manufacturing enterprise in 1859 that eventually became J. Fleury's Sons Co., Ltd. of Aurora, Ontario, Canada. The firm manufactured 22 models of single-furrow walking plows, a number of other agricultural implements, and home and forest machinery well into the 20th century. The products were sold worldwide. In 1937, the company merged with T.E. Bissell Co., an Flora, Ontario, producer of coulters and disks, and the new firm, which operated until 1969, was called Fleury Bissell Co., Ltd. Following is the first of a three-part series that reports on the history of the Fleury firm and is written by Bruce F. Fleury, a descendant of Joseph Fleury Jr.

Fleury family legend has it that three Fleury brothers arrived in New France, which is now Quebec, Canada, in 1665, as officers in the crack Corrigan-Salieres French Regiment, sent by Louis XIV to battle against the British army and its ally, the Iroquois Nation, at Lake Champlain.

After the French defeat in 1670 at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, near Quebec City, the brothers went separate ways. The eldest returned to France, the second joined a precursor of the North West Co. as a 'cour de bois' or 'runner of the woods,' in Canada West and the third settled as a squire on a large seigneury, or French-style farm, at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.

It is on the seigneury that our story begins some four generations later. In 1810, Joseph Fleury, a descendant of the squire, left Trois-Rivieres for Upper Canada (Ontario), where he was welcomed to the Sipes family's pioneer farm near the village of Markham, close to York, now Toronto.

Joseph was described as a yeoman, farmer and soldier, having fought in the War of 1812 between Canada and the United States, and on Oct. 31, 1814, he married Mary Sipes in Markham. They moved a few miles west, to Temperanceville, now called King City, where Joseph purchased a 100-acre farm for 325 English pounds. The couple raised 11 children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. Joseph Fleury Jr., the 'standard bearer' in this series, was their youngest son.

At age 27, in 1859, Joseph Jr., with his brother, Alexander, established a black-smith shop in Machell's Corners, which changed its name in 1862 to Aurora. Earlier, Alexander apprenticed under a Newmarket blacksmith named Blaker and then established a shop on the family homestead, where he built farm implements as part of his business. At the same time, Joseph Jr. apprenticed with Joseph Wells of Temperanceville, and became an accomplished black-smith and ironmonger. Joseph Jr. also had an entrepreneurial spirit, and soon he formed a partnership with another blacksmith, Thomas Pearson. For a short time, they were joined by Alexander, too.