Tin Mine at St. Agnes Head Cornwall


As told by Patricia Aunger Solmes 


When Richard Aunger was born on March 30, 1806,  in St. Clether,  Cornwall, England,  his father,  Thomas was 32 and his mother,  Catherine was 32. He married Jael (Jane Bastard on Nov. 5, 1829.

St. Clether,  Cornwall, England

When Jael Jane Bastard was born in 1807 in Boscastle,  Cornwall, England,  her father,  Thomas,  was 39,  and her mother,  Elizabeth Turner Laskey,  was 39.     They had 11 children in 20 years.  Richard died on December 19, 1871,  in Linkinhorne, Cornwall,  England,  at the age of 65.  Jane died on November 8, 1872,  in Cornwall,  England,  at the age of 65.

While sons,   George and Renfury,   stayed in Cornwall,  all the other children emigrated to North America,  in search of mining work.  But it was John Laskey Aunger who would leave his mark in the Marmora area.

John Laskey Aunger's second wife,   Mary Jane Merriam

Edward Stanbury and Mary Jane Aunger Stanbury

n 1852, John emigrated to Canada and sought out his aunt and uncle,  Edward Stanbury and Mary Jane Aunger,   living in Seymour Township,  whose  daughter,  Catherine,  he later married

John Laskey Aunger  

John Laskey Aunger worked in the tin mines at Land's End,  Cornwall,  England, from the age of 12 years for 12 pence per day.  He became skilled with hammer and drill,  and by the time he was 16 years of age,  many old miners were seeking to employ him for full miner's pay.  He worked in the Cornwall mines,  St, Ives area,  until he was 20

In 1852,  he emigrated to Canada.  He sought out his aunt and uncle,  Edward and Mary Jane Stanbury in Northumberland County, Ontario,  and then married their daughter,  Catherine,  his first cousin in 1855.

He went to work in the Lake Superior Copper Mines,  Minnesota Mines,  Ontonagan County,  Michigan after Edwin was born in Seymour Township.  The second child,  Edward,  was born in Michigan,  as were the third and fourth children,  Mary Jane and John Albert. His next three children ,  Emeline, Victoria and Bethelda,  were born back in Ontario, after which his wife died on June 27, 1870.  However, by the first of November of that year,  he had married his niece,  Mary Jane Merriam,  who had promised her aunt she would take care of her children.  Together,  John and Mary Jane went on to have five more children.

White Hart, Cambourne,  Cornwall 

London Inn,  Redruth,  Cornwall

In 1872, John Aunger was employed by the Cobourg, Peterborough and Marmora Railway and Mining Company and  in August 1873, the company sent him back to Cornwall to recruit men to work in the mines of Canada. He remained in Cornwall several weeks, making his head-quarters at Cambourne and Redruth. When he returned, he brought out seventy-five men,  all of whom were desperately looking for work due to the depression in the mining industry in England at that time.

He returned to Canada on a ship which had laid a cable under the Atlantic Ocean, and brought back as a souvenir, a piece of scrap from the cable. In 1982, this memento was in the possession of his grandson, William Robert George Aunger.

When John and Mary Jane's first child, Frederick, was born in 1874, John was serving as overseer of the Blairton Iron Mines, a position he held for several years.

By 1882, there was very little activity at the Blairton Mines, and the town's population was down to slightly more than 300. The mines, equipment, and about 30,000 acres of land were sold by court order to Thomas P. Pearce of Marmora.  Many of the vacant homes were dismantled and the materials from them shipped west. With the mines closing, John left his family in Blairton and tried his hand at mining in Quebec. He was located there in 1884, when the last of his children was born.

Redruth Council History Notes:  

 Given the importance of mining to local employment it was a major catastrophe when plummeting world prices of copper and tin caused the closure of many mines or the sharp reduction of wages at those left open. The depression of 1866/67 heralded the bad times. In 1867 a "house to house visitation has revealed destitution scarcely equalled in the back slums of the metropolis and certainly never dreamt of as occurring in Redruth ... men going underground to work without breakfast".      The distress and trauma caused by the contraction of mining would have been worse had it not been for an option increasingly grasped by 19th century Cornish men and women - emigration. After the 1860s thousands of Redruth people left their homes for better prospects; some went to the mines and factories of Northern England and South Wales, but many more went overseas to North America, Australia and, later in the 1890s, to South Africa.

Did you know.......

 It is estimated that 6 million people worldwide are  descendants of the Cornish miners that emigrated from Cornwall between 1815 and 1915.  On July 13, 2006,  the mines of Cornwall were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO


Returning to Blairton, John went to work for the Thomas P. Pearce Company, keeping their accounts, and collecting the rents. He continued in this capacity for a number of years, the records showing him still in their employment in 1900.

John became Deputy Reeve of Belmont Township, and continued serving in this capacity at least through 1894, at which time he served the united townships of Belmont and Methuen.

Ledyards Gold Mine,  East half of Lot 19, Conc. 1 Belmont Twp.  1893-1896

 During his years of work in the various mines, John had made a large, but informal rock collection. In 1886, he sold 1000 "mineral specimens of great note" to P. T. Barnum of N.Y., for his museum. After that, John began collecting minerals unceasingly and in earnest, until he had what one newspaper reported as "one of the finest collections of minerals in existence."  He discovered the Ledyard Gold Mine in 1892, and in that same year supplied the minerals for the display of the Ontario Crown Lands Department at the Worlds Fair in Chicago.  In 1894, he made a gift of mineral specimens to the county, which were displayed in the form of a pyramid on the grounds to the south of the courthouse at Peterborough. There were several hundred specimens in the gift, almost all of which were collected in the eastern part of the county.  But weather and vandalism have taken their toll. The pyramid no longer exists.

 John Laskey Aunger had a gift for words. From the 1880's through the early years of the 1900's, he was a frequent contributor to such newspapers as the Havelock Standard, the Marmora Herald, the Norwood Register, the Examiner, and the North Hastings Review. He submitted such items as local news, letters to the editor, opinions (particularly on mining and mineral subjects), local history, and observations on various facets of life. Occasionally, he would submit poetry, much of which was satirical. He was known to readers of the Marmora Herald as "Our Blairton Correspondent."

Click to read  a sample :  Letter to the Editor 1911 by J.L. Aunger


Mary Jane died of heart disease at their home in Blairton, after years of affliction with pernicious anemia.  Shortly after Mary Jane's death, the Pearce Company finally acknowledged that the days of the Blairton Mines were over. Transportation of the ore was prohibitively expensive and discovery of competitive fields along Lake Superior eclipsed the Blairton operations. Finally, water from Crowe Lake was seeping into the shafts faster than the company could pump it out. The population of Blairton was down to fifty people, and Pearce Company was so far behind in what it owed John Laskey Aunger, it decided to give him the mine and house property in lieu of salary. The transaction was never recorded.

In 1912, John wrote his last will and testament.  The year 1924 was a leap year, and on Feb. 29, John passed quietly away.




Children of John Laskey Aunger and Catherine Stanbury

1. Edwin Henry Aunger was born on July 28, 1856, in Canada, his father, John, was 24 and his mother, Catherine, was 25. He married Edith Rosella Brown on October 16, 1878, in Peterborough, Ontario. They had six children in 18 years. He died on April 26, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, USA, at the age of 84.

2.  Edward Stanbury Aunger was born on August 19, 1858, in Rockland, Michigan, USA, his father, John, was 26 and his mother, Catherine, was 27. He had six brothers and five sisters. He died on March 16, 1859, in his hometown within a year of his birth.

3.  Mary Jane Aunger was born on April 18, 1860, in Ontonagon, Michigan, USA, her father, John, was 27, and her mother, Catherine, was 29. She married Daniel Thomas Young on March 1, 1882, in Ontario.  They had seven chidren in 16 years. She died on April 24th, 1921 at the age of 61

4.  John Albert Aunger was born on April 9, 1862, in Michigan, USA, his father, John, was 29 and his mother, Catherine, was 31. He had six brothers and five sisters.  He died on Aug. 22, 1985  at the age of 23.

5.  Eliza Emeline Aunger was born on March 17, 1864, in Campbellford, Ontario, her father, John, was 31, and her mother, Catherine, was 33. She had seven brothers and four sisters. She died on April 15, 1950, at the age of 86.

6.  Victoria Annie Aunger was born on January 28, 1867, in Ontario, Ontario, her father, John, was 34, and her mother, Catherine, was 36. She married Herbert Malcolm Maxon on June 8, 1892, in  Blairton, Peterborough Cty, Ontario. She died on October 18, 1934 in Picton, Ontarioat the age of 67.

7. Bethelda Laskey "Belle" Aunger was born on January 17, 1869, in Peterborough, Ontario, her father, John, was 36, and her mother, Catherine, was 38. She married Frank Grey Tice on July 19, 1893, in her hometown. She died on July 16, 1937, in Oswego, New York, USA, at the age of 68.

 The Aunger house on Highway #7, east of county line

The Aunger house on Highway #7, east of county line

Children of John Laskey Aunger and Mary Jane Merriam

1.Frederick Laskey Aunger was born on March 3, 1874, in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 41 and his mother, Mary, was 29. He married Mary Jane Mason on March 15, 1899, in Springbrook, Ontario. They had five children during their marriage. He died on November 3, 1940, in Edwards, New York, USA, at the age of 66.

Children:  Leland Verne 1900-1968,  Gene Aunger 1903,  Frederick 1904-1964,  Ena Maye 1906-1971 Edwin Cecil 1908-1961

2.Henry Wolsley Wilkinson Aunger was born on May 15, 1878, in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 46 and his mother, Mary, was 33. He married Fanny Ann RYLOTT on October 3, 1900, in Havelock, Ontario. They had three children in 20 years. He died on February 14, 1960, in Canada at the age of 81.

  Children:  John Laskey1902-1987,  Viola Pearl1906-1945,  Kenneth1922-1973

3.  George Renfrey Aunger was born on May 31, 1880, in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 48 and his mother, Mary, was 35. He had six brothers and five sisters. He died on July 24, 1966, in Belleville, Ontario, at the age of 86

George Aunger,  Catherine Way,  Arlene & Pat Aunger 1950

4.  Florence Lillian May Aunger was born on April 8, 1882, in Peterborough, Ontario, her father, John, was 49, and her mother, Mary, was 37. She had seven brothers and four sisters. She died on April 14, 1950, in Havelock, Ontario, at the age of 68.

5.  William Richard Aunger was born on September 12, 1884, in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 52 and his mother, Mary, was 39. He married Mabel Josephine Anderson on October 20, 1931, in Bancroft, Ontario. They had three children during their marriage. He died on June 1, 1963, in his hometown at the age of 78.

Children:  Arlene Mary (living),  William (Bob) 1934-2001,  Patricia M.,Aunger Solmes 1937 (living)

Top to bottom:  Arlene Aunger, Jackie Youmans, Edith Youmans, Rosemary Noseworthy, Pat Aunger, Marie Cook Ruby Youmans

George R. Aunger, Handy Store 

Madoc Street...south side and a bit east of Victoria St.

Bob Cook, Murray Wlker,  Jim Wallbridge, Bob Aunger,  Glen Niles, Bob Walker

The Aunger house

Aunger dog and wheels from blairton ore car

Brian Henry Aunger added:     My great great grandfather was John Laskey AUNGER. His first son, Edwin Henry Sr., was my father's namesake. Edwin Henry became a blacksmith and carriage wright in Ohio. In 1911 he sold his shop, bought a brand new Buick, and drove to Los Angles. My grandfather Ernest was 7 years old then and would recount to me stories of camping along the road during that trip. This trip may have been inspired by the early automobile adventures of Edwin Henry's cousin Murray Aunger in Australia who crossed that continent by automobile a few years earlier, and later, drove the perimeter.
Your website is an amazing find for me and beautifully composed. I grew up hearing about the mineral collection and found only an obscure reference to John and the Blarton mine a few years ago. Thank you for filling in so much about my heritage and accomplishments of my great great grandfather.


Blairton School Group:                       Ruby Youmans,  Murray Walker, Bob Cok,  Arlene Aunger,    Jackie Youmans, Bob Aunger, Noseworthy, Bob Walker, Edith Youmans, Jim Wallbridge, Marie Cook, Glen Niles, Pat Aunger