Famous Joseph Fleury Jr. Plows – Part II

Joseph Fleury Jr. and his family made their mark on agricultural implement manufacturing in Canada.

| April 2003

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    Aurora Agricultural Works in operation.
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    Joseph Fleury Jr. founded the Aurora Agricultual Works in 1859 in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. He died Sept. 23, 1880.
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    Besides building famous plows, J. Fleury's Sons Ltd. produced a variety of farm implements for nearly every task, as depicted in this early advertisement, from corn shelling and straw cutting to oat rollers. The ad below shows that Fleury's products were sold by the John Deere Plow Co., Ltd. at one time."The 3A Cutter has the greatest simplicity of construction of any Cutter on the market. It loses less power through friction of bearings than other cutters and therefore will do more work with the same power. The Carriers can be reversed in a few minutes and will run at an angle of 45 degrees. This Cutter without carrier is a satisfactory Hay and Straw Cutter for use by hand or power. Adapted to light power; speed, from 150 to 250 rpm. Has lever for stopping feed rollers instantly – but not reversing them."
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    The Fleury mansion, dubbed "Inglehurst," built in 1876 under Joseph Jr.'s direction 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.
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    An advertisement from an early Fleury catalog shows that the company made amny more farm implements than the plows that originally earned the company fame. That expanded product line blossomed as the company's business boomed."Our Reversible cone root Cutter No. 1, which by turning one way slices and by reversing pulps the roots. This Cutter has a reputation of many years' standing, and is a heavy and very durable machine. The pumping knives are made to do much coarser pulping than Cutters Nos. 7 and 8, and for this reason the work is preferred in many cases where the fine pulping is not desired."

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Editor's note: This is part II of a III part series, read part I here. 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 Elora, Ontario, producer of coulters and discs, and the new firm, which operated until 1969, was called Fleury Bissell Co. Ltd. Following is the second in a three-part series that reports on the history of the Fleury firm, written by Bruce F. Fleury, a direct descendant of Joseph Fleury Jr.

Joseph Fleury Jr. initiated business as a blacksmith in 1859 in Machell's Corner (now Aurora), Ontario, Canada. After only a short time, however, he moved on to design and build experimental single-furrow walking plows, and established the Aurora Agricultural Works on Wellington Street, near Yonge Street in Aurora.

Fleury's cast iron plow beams proved more durable and maneuver-able than the wood-beamed imported European plows more commonly found on Canadian farms of that day. Farmers quickly recognized the advantage offered by Fleury's product, and his business soon enjoyed great success.

During Fleury's most active business period, the 1860s and most of the 1870s, he developed 22 different models of the single-furrow walking plows. During the firm's first 50 years, it turned out more than 100,000 plows - some 40 a week - that were sold coast to coast in Canada, and exported to the United States and other countries around the world.



The famous plows

Different models of Fleury plows were designed to meet every need that might arise for farmers. The single-furrow walking plows were identified by either numbers, names or both. Among those with double designations were the "Dandy," also known as the famous No. 21; the "Farmer's Friend," or No. 11; and "Louise," No. 17.

Single-furrow walking plows that were assigned only names included the "Little Queen," which the company promoted as "highly esteemed in the Maritime Provinces," and the "New Canada." Numbered designations ranged from five to 60, but not consecutively. Little is known about how and why the numbers were selected. Tinker-patented wheel plows were similarly identified, although their numbers did not range as high as those given to the walking plows.