Thursday, June 18, 2015


The Aurora Historical Society, with support from a Federal Government grant around the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, has developed an exhibit around the history of tennis in Canada, which is now open at the Hillary House.  The Hillary House (see photo), built in 1862, is a National Historic Site situated on 2.5 acres on Yonge Street, in downtown Aurora and is run as a year round museum. The Hillary family members were avid sports people and tennis was their favorite sport.  The Aurora Tennis Club operated on the grass court on the site (see photo below). Two clay courts were added in the early 1930s that were the beginnings of the Aurora Community Tennis Club, which relocated to a nearby public park in 1934. 

When the AHS acquired the Hillary House, they found many family belongings in the home including several tennis racquets (one dated 1907), a lawn roller, and line marking equipment.  They also found an abundance of sports photos, sleds and snowshoes, 3 croquet sets as old as 1880 and a complete set of Slazenger Lawn Bowls dated 1903. 

The AHS has brought the sporting days back to Hillary House and they are restoring the grass court, on which they will hold a series of exhibition matches and festive events in July and August. Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame members with connections to the Aurora community such as Bob Bedard, Keith Carpenter, Harry Fauquier, Lorne Main and Lawrie Strong will be participating in these exhibition matches, which will be part of festive events with appropriate offerings of food and drink.

The curated exhibition on Tennis in Canada: From early beginnings to Global Success opened early in June. It focuses on the early years of the sport and includes artifacts, photography, pictorials, graphics and some interactive material.  There will also be material about the history of the Pan Am Games. Other popular domestic sports such as lawn bowling and Croquet, which were pastimes of the Hillarys, are also be included in the exhibit.

For details of the special events, opening hours of the exhibits and more information please go to the Aurora Historical Society at  

Opening ceremonies for the grass court will be held on July 18 and Closing ceremonies on Aug 8. Other special days are scheduled for July 19 and Jul 25 and more may be added. A full article on the exhibit and the history of tennis in Canada will be included in the summer issue of Ontario Tennis.

The Hillary House National Historic Site and the Tennis in Canada exhibit is open between 10 am and 4 pm Wednesday through Saturday each week.  Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and children, free for AHS members.