AURORA, ON, Nov. 7 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the
Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC) unveiled a provincial
plaque to commemorate the Aurora Armoury and its long and historic association
with the town.
As Canada assumed responsibility for its own defence from Britain, drill
sheds and armouries were constructed as a response to the associated
challenges and initiatives. These facilities reflected the increased emphasis
on defence during the period, the importance of the militia to Canadian
security, and the development of the military profession in Canada.
The Aurora Armoury, built in 1874 as a drill shed, is the oldest
purpose-built armoury still used by the military in Ontario. It is an
evocative link to the larger history of the province's militia regiments,
recruited regionally and possessing close affiliations with their
communities. It was also the site of Edward Blake's famous "Aurora speech" in
1874 when the prominent politician and former Ontario premier called on the
federal government to implement reforms.
"From the beginning, drill sheds and armouries have been used for a
variety of civil purposes that contribute to the life of their communities
beyond their martial functions," said The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander,
Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust. "The Aurora Armoury remains an
important and thriving facility some 130 years after its creation."
The Aurora Drill Shed was one of many similar structures built from the
1860s onwards. It provided defence training facilities for volunteer militia
in a period of border insecurity and Anglo-American tensions associated
with the Civil War in the United States and the Fenian Raids. The Aurora
Armoury and the formation of volunteer militia units during the period
surrounding Confederation reflected the young country's growing
responsibilities for defence.
"For generations, the Armoury has stood guard as a symbol of freedom and
democracy for the people of Aurora," said The Honourable Aileen Carroll,
Minister of Culture. "It commemorates our proud military history, while
providing our young people with an opportunity to learn first-hand the
importance of community service."
The Queen's York Rangers have a storied history, serving in the Riel
Rebellion in 1885 and sending troops to fight in the South African (Boer) War
of 1899-1902. The regiment also contributed men to the Canadian Expeditionary
Force during the First World War. During the Second World War, the regiment
was mobilized and served in Canada as part of the home defence force.
Today, the Aurora Armoury remains home to part of the Queen's York
Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC). It also serves the 2799 Royal Canadian
Army Cadet Corps (affiliated with the Rangers), which provides citizenship and
leadership training to young people within a military environment.
"The plaque commemorating the Aurora Armoury identifies a location from
which so much Canadian history has developed," added Lt.-Col. Michael
Stevenson, retired commanding officer of the Queen's York Rangers and former
British army officer. "From the northwest frontier and two world wars to the
more recent conflicts in Bosnia and Afghanistan, this plaque tells the story
of the Rangers and their long-standing traditions of excellence in serving
This unveiling is part of the Trust's Provincial Plaque Program that
commemorates significant people, places and events in Ontario's history. Since
1953, over 1,200 provincial plaques have been unveiled.
The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario,
dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's
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For further information:
For further information: Gordon Pim, Marketing and Communications
Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-1484, E-mail: