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Elora History

One visit is all it takes to “fall in love with Elora”

Captain William Gilkison
Sailor & Adventurer

Elora was founded in 1832 by Captain William Gilkison;

a sailor, adventurer and land speculator born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Originally called Irvine Settlement, the village was renamed Elora when the post office was established in 1839. Capt. Gilkison named the community after his brother’s ship, which was itself inspired by the Ellora Caves in India. Elora was settled by mainly Scottish pioneers who left their mark on finely crafted limestone houses, many of which remain today.


In the 1850’s and ‘60’s, Elora’s Downtown Core enjoyed its heyday as a major agricultural marketplace.

The stores on this street sold a range of goods as diverse as anywhere in Canada.

In the 1960’s, the first craftspeople and artists took up residence in Elora and established the village as a tourist destination. Artisans transformed the century-old buildings into shops and galleries full of character and charm. And created the art that introduced Elora to the world.

During this time, the
Elora Gorge Park was also established.

The Elora Gorge is one of the most scenic areas in Southern Ontario with its limestone cliffs descending 80 feet into the Grand and Irvine rivers where small caves, rapids, falls and quiet waters beckon visitors.

The Elora Gorge Park offers paddleboat rentals, hiking, camp-grounds, fishing, swimming and picnicking during the spring and summer months, and beautiful scenery year-round.


At the foot of Mill Street stands the Elora Mill, one of the few early Ontario five-storey grist mills still in existence.

Currently closed for extensive revitalization and reopening in 2014.


In 1999, Elora was merged into the township of Centre Wellington.

The primary communities in the township are Elora and Fergus.

Also including a number of smaller communities, stretched across rolling hills and Mennonite farmland.


“One visit is all it takes to fall in love with Elora

Elora is a cultural haven with so much to offer. Rich in live music, visual arts, crafts, up-scale boutiques, natural beauty, architecture, culinary flavours, and diverse in culture; Elora provides an alternative lifestyle not typically found in small, rural communities in this day and age. Discover for yourself what makes Elora so unique and you will fall in love too!

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