Final Fleury: Famous Joseph Fleury Jr. Plows – Part III

After the death of Joseph Fleury Jr., his sons continued changing lives for farmers in Canada

| May 2003

Editor's note: Joseph Fleury Jr. launched an agricultural implement manufacturing enterprise in 1859 that eventually became J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. of Aurora, Ontario, Canada. The firm manufactured 22 models of single-furrow walking plows, extensive numbers of other agricultural implements, and home and forest machinery well into the 20th century. The products were sold worldwide. In 1938, 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 final installment in a series that reports on the history of the Fleury firm, written by Bruce F. Fleury, a direct descendant of Joseph Fleury Sr.

View part I and part II 

Part III

The death of founder Joseph Fleury Jr. in 1880 placed the Aurora Agricultural Works, Aurora, Ontario, without clear management. Joseph Jr.'s two sons were too young to assume operation of the firm. The eldest, Herbert Watson (H.W.), was only 20, while his brother, William James, was 15, and both were in school. As a consequence, the company's long-time manager and bookkeeper, Andrew Yule, assumed control of the operation until 1886, when H.W. was old enough to assume responsibility himself.

Prosperous times

According to the Aurora Banner newspaper, Yule performed in "a most efficient and effective manner." H.W., 26 years old in 1886, succeeded Yule and operated the company for the next 53 years until 1938. In due course, William James earned a law degree and established the firm of McMaster, Montgomery and Fleury in Toronto. Then he opened an annex office at the Aurora Agricultural Works to provide managerial and legal services to the family firm, of which he was a full and active partner.

The company's name changed to J. Fleury's Sons Ltd., and the firm enjoyed unprecedented product growth and financial prosperity during H.W.'s tenure. Western Canada was finally open to settlement when the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the Pacific Ocean in 1889. The farm population, as well as demand for farm equipment in those far reaches of Canada, far exceeded production of quality agricultural products in the United States.

Free trade agreements provided added opportunities for exceptional sales, as did the Fleury company's highly successful involvement in the 1889 Paris World Exposition and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. An effective product distribution system was established from the beginning, which efficiently supplied thousands of farmers with equipment and parts to Canada, the U.S. and other countries. To ensure the company would continue to meet the demand for its implements, the newly built manufacturing plant was expanded to 70,000 square feet. It was staffed by a highly skilled workforce of more than 200 employees that provided the necessary labor to meet orders. A new office building was also built on Wellington Street at the town's center to handle the increased business.