NOTE:  Chinese name order is surname, middle name (if any), then first name. In our story, Lem is the surname.

Spectacular Fire

Marmora Herald October 3, 1946

The worst fire to occur in Marmora for several years broke out Saturday night shortly after 11 0'clock. It started in the new lunch bar and spread very rapidly. It was caused by the explosion of gasoline. Cooking in the restaurant was done with a gasoline stove. The stove ran out of fuel and went out and the proprietor started to fill it from a gasoline can. There was no sign of a fire around the stove, but suddenly the gasoline exploded and in a few minutes the whole interior of the restaurant was a mass of flames. The rear part of the building was of frame construction and it burned so fiercely that the flames could be seen for quite a distance. It was impossible to save any of the contents the fire spread so rapidly.

The fire soon spread to George Aunger's grocery and meat shop next door and nearly everything was a total loss. During the past few years he had built up a large stock, every shelf being piled up with goods and many articles were also piled on the counter and on the floor of the shop. Mr. Aunger's loss is heavy. The fire also started under the roof of the big stone building, formerly the St. James Hotel, and caused considerable damage. The roof had to be cut in places to get at the blaze and the water and smoke did a lot of damage. The upstairs was in apartments and was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Henry, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Gray, Mr. Aunger and the proprietors of the Glossy Cate.

Most of the contents were water soaked. The lower floor is occupied by W. B. Wilde's Boot and Shoe store, Marmora Fruit Market and the Glossy Cafe. The shoe store and the fruit market suffered some loss and considerable inconvenience in removing goods from the premises. The restaurant suffered quite a loss from water and smoke, but even more from vandalism. Cigarettes, tobacco and other articles were stolen in a shameful manner. If the names of the guilty parties can be secured charges should be laid. The buildings were owned by Mr. John Jones and Miss Jennie Jones. The loss on the buildings and the lunch bar is partly covered by insurance, but we understand Mr. George Aunger had no insurance.



In 1929, two Chinese restaurateurs,  Lem Lung and his cousin & cook, Lem Jong,  established the "Glossy Cafe at the north end of the St. James Hotel on the main business section of Marmora.  Business was good,  serving the general public and often acting as a bank to cash cheques for Deloro workers.  However,  bad luck struck on a number of occasions,  and in 1946,  Lem Lung sold out to a relative, Lem Sam,  who moved the restaurant to a new location behind what is now the library,  and added a laundry service.

In 1936,  Lem Lung learned of the death of his wife back in China.  His bad luck continued in1939 when he was badly beaten for cash he held in the restaurant:


Lem Lung, proprietor of the Glossy Cafe was attacked early this morning and badly beaten over the head while he was standing over the stove in his restaurant preparing a meal. Ike Neal, 60, of this village, was later arrested at his boarding house by Provincial Officer Hatch and Constable Percy Gray and lodged in the Marmora jail.
Neal is alleged by police to have entered the restaurant early this morning and ordered three breakfasts for miners and while Len Lung was preparing the same he was struck over the head. He was knocked unconscious but came to about six o'clock thIs morning and was seen running up the street with blood flowing from his wounds and he was shouting the name of "Ike Neal."
The Chinaman was taken to the office of Dr. Crawford where it was found he had seven wounds in the head and a possible fractured skull. He was later removed to Belleville hospital.
January 19, 1939

The principal witnesses called to the trial wereDr. E. R. Frankish, Medico-Iegal expert of the Province of Ontario, and Lem Lung, himself.  Using and interpreter,  Lem testified:

"When is the Deloro Mine payday?" asked Mr. Donnan.
" The 10th .and 25th of the month,"
"Do you cash mine cheques for some of the 28 employees?" asked the Crown
"Yes, up to $90.00 and $120.00"
"What knowledge did Isaac Neal have of this practice?" asked Mr. Donnan.
"He saw me payout money many times" assured Lem Lung as he went on to tell as
to how Neal had come to his restaurant on December 8th and 9th consecutively and requested
Lung to open his business early in order to prepare breakfast for himself and three friends.
"Did Neal come in on the morning of the 9th?" asked Mr. Donnan.
"Yes, but he tell me that his friends could not come today as they were drunk" was Lung's
reply, as he added that Neal came back that night and again ordered breakfast for the
morning of Dec. 10th.

Lung stated he was bent over a table buttering toast when he was struck on the head from behind.

"Did you see this hammer?" asked Mr. Donnan, introducing the hammer presented by Dr. Frankish.
"I see nothing. I was blinded and semi-conscious. He grab me by collar and hit me on face and head many times. I bleeding bad when I shout "Neal killing me" Then I run out door and Pat 0'Connor take me to doctor" concluded Lung.

Other witnesses testified at the previous sittings of the court, including police officers who arrested Neal and obtained blood-stained clothes and the hammer in question. Neal was not represented by counsel and did not plead to the charge. When Magistrate Lloyd asked Neal if he had any evidence on his own behalf, the accused answered "Not now."

Isaac (Ike) Neal, Marmora mechanic who was sentenced to two years and nine months in Kingston Penitentiary in February of 1939, but later that yearwas killedwhile working in the prison machine shop, on an
engine lathe turning a heavy piece of metal, and its believed the piece of steel flew off and struck him on the forehead, causing a fracture of the skull and death.

Neal 's body was forwarded to Marmora for burial today and an inquest was ordered at the penitentiary before the release of the body.


In July 1946,   Lem was ready to give up and made plans to sell the cafe to his relative,  Lem Sam,  and return to China.  In October of that year however,  a gas explosion in the kitchen ruined the cafe and George Aunger's Meat Market next door (now the location of the Insurance Office)....see left.

Lem Sam however, moved his business to a location behind the present library,  where it is believed he also ran a laundry business.  A good move,  for in 1952,  the St. James Hotel suffered another fire,  after which the peaked roof was replaced by the flat roof.