From its early days, Elora has been a place of inspiration. The dream of waterpower brought Captain William Gilkison here in 1832 to buy the area for his future city. His dream outlasted his life, and others carried on, developing Elora. It became a stopping point for settlers moving upsteam on the Grand River and a central market town for farmers.
Gilkison purchased his town-site on the south-eastern side of the river, and his son, David continued development on that side. Streets and a town square were all surveyed, but changes were in store for the tiny settlement. The death of Wm Gilkison slowed Elora’s growth until Charles Allan and Andrew Geddes laid out a town site on the other side of the river. Village lots were sold by public auction in 1848. Elora was settled rapidly after this point and was incorporated into a village in 1858.
Most of the commercial settlement occurred near the grist mill, by the falls, on a street that we now call Mill Street. Gradually, the business district moved up the hill to to its current location. As a market for farmers around Elora and to many points north of the village, business growth was easily sustained.
Like many in Canada at the time, the citizens of Elora welcomed the railway, expecting it to bring them increased commercial traffic. Sadly, the trains took the goods beyond Elora to Toronto, and some of the promises for the future with them.
Elora has expanded and contracted since its inception. It has produced some famous citizens. John Connon chronicled the early history, but also photographed it. He was the inventor of the panoramic camera, which rotated both camera and film to take a wider picture of scenery and groups.
Citizens supported each other with religious groups and built several churches around the village. Many private schools were opened on both sides of the river. The public school building on Melville and Mill streets is now home to the Elora Centre for the Arts.
Shortly after the 1848 auction, citizens were so fired up about their new town that they started a community band. That band lasted well into the next century. Elora citizens have also organized into armed units to defend our country, first with the Fenian raids. The current liquor store was once the village drill shed, or armory hall.
Here you can have an impression of Elora in the 1940`s:
Fergus-Elora News Express
Happenings in Elora have been documented for over a century with a series of newspapers, starting with the Elora Backwoodsman. The last major local paper, the Elora Express amalgamated with the Fergus News Record to become the Fergus-Elora News Express. More about the Fergus Elora News Express. Unfortunately this news paper has fallen victim to the changing times as well, and the last edition was printed in December of 2016. More about our other regional newspaper The Wellington Advertiser.
Elora citizens are proud of their home town and always want to show it. They state what they believe in and have been strong on independence. In 1999, the province mandated that smaller towns of the province amalgamate. Elora joined with nearby Fergus and the surrounding townships to form the Township of Centre Wellington.