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

  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-1.jpg
    Joseph Fleury Jr. founded the Aurora Agricultural Works in 1859 in Aurora, Ontario, Canada.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-10.jpg
    Horse-drawn plows like these made J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. "famous."
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-11.jpg
    While J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. was "famous" for their horse-drawn plows, other products like this oat flaker helped guarantee the company a broader share of the market.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-2.jpg
    This horsepower is one of many products made by the Fleury Co. that won the firm fame at both the Paris and Chicago World's Fairs.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-3.jpg
    Herbert Watson Fleury, or H.W., son of Joseph Jr., ran the company from 1886-1938.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-4.jpg
    William James Fleury lent legal and management expertise until his death in 1946.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-5.jpg
    This photo taken in the 1930s shows the engine house and towering 90-foot smokestack at the Fleury foundry in Aurora.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-6.jpg
    This early photograph depicts the Fleury mansion, "Inglehurst," build in 1876 under Joseph Jr.'s direction. It was located directly across from the Aurora Agricultural Works in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. His daughter, Viola Sarah Fleury, lived in the stately dwelling until she was 93 years old. The home was sold in 1945 and demolished in 1980.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-7.jpg
    By the dawn of the 20th century, J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. offered an extensive product line. Included were 22 plow models, 18 varieties of ensilage and straw cutters, six roll grain crushers and grinders, 25 different 'Rapid Easy' plate grinders, baggers, four saw frames, five horsepowers, eight farm and garden wheelbarrows (large and small wheels), scuffiers, turnip drills, several sizes of pulverizes, four gang plows, three sulky plows, both single and two furrow, reapers like the Meadow Lark model used in North America and Europe, and a number of rakes and binders.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-8.jpg
    J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. produced dozens of products used daily by farmers across Canada, the United States and internationally. Records show that the company produced more than 100,000 single-furrow walking plows in the first 50 years of business, as well as root cutters and straw binders, like this one, designed to make life on the farm easier in those days before corporate farming.
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-9.jpg
    J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. produced dozens of products used daily by farmers across Canada, the United States and internationally. Records show that the company produced more than 100,000 single-furrow walking plows in the first 50 years of business, as well as root cutters and straw binders, like this one, designed to make life on the farm easier in those days before corporate farming.

  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-1.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-10.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-11.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-2.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-3.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-4.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-5.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-6.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-7.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-8.jpg
  • FC_V5_I10_May_2003_05-9.jpg

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.