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All the way from California

My name is Dorcas Lee Aunger. I live in Arcadia, California. I am the great-great-granddaughter of John Laskey Aunger (of Blairton) and his first wife, Catherine Stanbury. I am  a half-first cousin twice removed to Patricia “Pat” Aunger Solmes, who told The Aunger Family story. Pat is the Grand Daughter of John Laskey Aunger and his second wife, Mary Jane Merriam .

I have been researching our family history since 1948, when I was a teenager. I had heard my grandparents refer to family in Canada, but knew nothing about them, except  a family joke which said that my grandfather, George Stanbury Aunger (a grandson of John Laskey Aunger) had been smuggled into the USA under his mother’s apron.  Actually there was no smuggling. His mother was pregnant with him when his parents, Edward and Edith Aunger emigrated from Canada to the U.S.

George Stanbury Aunger and his wife, Emma Catherine Holland, lived in Los Angeles , California, Shortly after Emma died in 1963, George had a stroke and came to live with my parents. He died on 13 March 1966. In going through some of his papers, I found a letter he had started to write to his Uncle George in Marmora. I wrote a short note to “Uncle George”,  informing him of my grandfather’s death, and enclosed  in it the partially written letter.

George R. Aunger, Handy Store Madoc St....south side and a bit east of Victoria St.

“Uncle George” was George Reanfrey Aunger, who had a variety store in Marmora, a son of John Laskey Aunger.

It was about 4 months later that I got a reply to my letter, but not from “Uncle George”. It was from “Aunt” Mabel, the widow of his brother, William Richard Aunger. Mabel told me that George Reanfrey Aunger had passed away on 24 July 1966. I continued corresponding with Mabel, but after just a few letters she told me that her eyes were bad and she had trouble reading the letters. Would I please write to her daughter Pat Solmes.  I found that Pat was a kindred spirit and as interested in the family history as I. Thus began a long-distance collaboration, which still exists.

The home of Edward Stanbury, Sr., and Mary Jane Aunger

In 1982, my mother and I made a trip to Ontario and spent a week with Pat’s family. Pat took me to visit her mother and brother, and several family members of the older generations. We walked cemeteries together, and went to the local library to do more research. She took me to the home of Edward Stanbury, Sr., and Mary Jane Aunger. It was the second house built in  Northumberland County in 1832. It is still occupied as a private home today.

PS If you are interested in information on other descendants of John Laskey Aunger in later generations, who moved to other places.  I have been able to keep track of a great many of them, and are also in touch with the descendants of Anne Aunger and Catherine Aunger, the sisters of John Laskey Aunger's father.  These sisters, started the two branches of the Aunger family who went to South Australia and Victoria at the time of their goldrush and are still there today.  I also have John Laskey Aunger's ancestry going back seven generations in the Aunger line, eight generations in the Pearce line, eleven generations in the Pomeroy line and eleven generations in the Mutton line.  Much of Mary Jane Merriam's ancestry is the same as John Laskey Aunger's because they were first cousins one removed.  I can carry the Merriam line back 12 generations and the Stanbury line back 16 generations.  I will be happy to share any of that information if you are interested.


1812 Earhart (Airhart) Petition for Land Grant

The years around 1812 were unsettled times for Upper Canada. The Americans were looking to govern the whole North American continent, while the British, already feeling the wounds of losing their colonies on the continent’s east shores, were planning the strategies to hold on to their ground won from the French. One way was to reward those loyal to the Crown, the Loyalists, with grants of land, and then encourage more settlers and the next generation, with similar encouragement.

Just recently, while trying to confirm the Airhart family tree, Kevin Van Koughnett, sent us a Canada Archives copy of the Asahel Earhart’s (Airhart) document from Jan. 28, 1812 - a Petition asking for such a Land Grant in Adophustown, south of Napanee.


It reads:

To his Excellency Francis C. Gore ,  Provincial Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Upper Canada,  and ___in Council, The Petition of Asahel Earhart,  son of Adam Earhart of the Township of Fredericksburg,  a United Empire Loyalist

Most Humbly showeth That your Petitioner is the son of Adam Earhart of the Township of Fredericksburg,  a United Empire Loyalist,   that he has attained the full age of 21 years,  has taken the oath of Alligence (sic) as will appear by the  annexed certificate and has never had any Land or  Order for  Lands from the Crown, Wherefore your petitioner prays that your Excellency may be pleased to grant him two hundred acres of the vast Land of the Crown and permit Thomas Dorland  _____of Adolphustown to ___the  ___ and take out the Deed when completed and your Petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray.

Adolphustown 28th Jan. 1812                                Asahel   His X Mark    Earhart

Asahel Earhart maketh Oath and sayeth that he is the person he describes himself to be in the above Petition,  that attained the age of 21 years and has never received any Land or Order for Lands from the Crown. Sworn before me  in a General Quarter Sessions   Of the Peace of the Midland District In the Court House of Adolphustown    This 28th day of January 1812 Alec Fisher Chairman  (Same oath sworn by Henry Bartley by his mark)

Thomas Dorland, mentioned here, was a Captain of a company of militia in the war of 1812.



At the age of 90, Florence Beatrice Lee Steenburgh told her story to Nancy Derrer of the Marmora Herald - a story of migration in search of work, the struggle to make ends meet and the final settling in the Marmora area.

Her father was Fred Lee, known in Marmora for his harness business and shoe repair.It has been reported he was originally located in the Pearce Arcade on Main Street. The Arcade burnt down in May of 1905, when it appears Mr. Lee relocated to the Bleecker Building (later known as Embers Restaurant, and now replaced with the new Bleeckers Residence). Then, in 1907 the Marmora Herald wrote that F.N. Marett and Josiah Pearce bought the Bleecker Building, which may have been the reason the Lees moved out west at that time.

"Dad was a bit of a rambler," mused Beatrice Lee Steenburgh, from her comfortable private room at Caressant Care. She was born in Northern Alberta in 1910, where the family had been homesteading.

"The British government was encouraging people to "Go West", so my parents headed to northern Alberta. They had a little son who took sick and died on the train. They stopped the train; the baby was buried and my parents had to go on and leave him there."

In 1910, shortly after Beatrice was born, the family moved on to Oregon to farm. Beatrice recalled Oregon fondly but never had the opportunity to return for a visit. When she was nine, the family returned to Canada by train, to the Madoc Township farm of Beatrice's fraternal grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. George Lee .

"After two years in Madoc, Fred and his wife, Frances Shaw (from Eldorado) and, by then three daughters, moved to Marmora, where Fred returned to his harness business, ". The Marmora Herald reported that, from 1921 to 1937, he ran his shop out of the south half of the Green Block, now the site of the Nickle's Drug Store parking lot, and then in 1946, he is again reported to be running his business back in the Bleecker Building.

Beatrice, the middle daughter, attended elementary and high school in Marmora, graduating at age 16. There were no thoughts of further schooling, so Beatrice went to work in Gladney's General Store in 1926. In 1930, she moved to Peterborough and took a factory job with General Electric.

"I had to go in hospital for an appendectomy," she reports, "and when I came out and was able to go back to work, we were deep in the Depression, and GE was not hiring."

She moved back to Marmora for a while and then, in 1937, while working in Toronto doing housework, she met and married Floyd Steenburgh, a construction worker originally from Havelock.

"When you are in construction, you go where the jobs are," she commented. The family moved first to Buffalo, other locations in New York State, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In 1949, they were again in Madoc and Floyd purchased his parents' farm. He was farming when, in 1951, he was hired by the Marmora mine, employed as a general foreman. He was the first person on the payroll. Floyd died in 1990.

Beatrice had five children: Carol Davies (Marmora), Floyd (a teacher in Oshawa), Sharon (Newcastle), Donna (Cloyne) and Marjorie. In 2001 Beatrice had 54 grand and great grandchildren.

Memories of Marmora High

As a result of Janice Brown's story on Jack Black,  we received this letter from William Andrews:

Leighton McGuinnes, Leonard Begley, Principal, Harry Jenkins, Jack Doran, Muriel Swayne, Helen Brady, Patricia Tockl, Anne Nickle

"Greetings to friends in Marmora.   I grew up at Bonarlaw and attended grades 9-12 at Marmora High from 1953 -1957. Wonderful memories of Leonard Begley - Principal  and Math, Helen Brady – French and Latin,  Patricial Toal – English,  Leighton McGinnis – science, Jean and Harry Jenkins – history. They were great years and mind opening experiences.

We all lived in fear of Reverend Brownlee and Father Healey! They always knew about who had started smoking,  had a beer before the school dance and the ultimate sin - dropped Latin.  None of this boded well and you were definitely stigmatized!    

We had a pretty lively group  – James Shannon,  Bill Cronkright, Leona Hagerdorn,  Rodney Mawer, Mike Doyle, Ken Stiles, Alice Mathews, Brenda Mckeown, Jane Glover, Dave Bedore, Jack Black, Bill Redcliffe, Barbara Neal, Marion + Bob Chrysler, Anna Lee Parkin, Robert Clemens,  Judy + Sandy Fraser, Carol  + Bob Jenkins,  Sandra Meiklejohn, Dean Lavender, Paul Brady, Dale McTaggart and many others.   Our football, hockey, volleyball and basketball teams were the best,  winning many times over Madoc, Tweed and Stirling. 

And then there was our blow out play in grade 12 – Disraeli – 2 performances  – mounted by Patricia Toal .  I was Disreali and Jack was one of my key ministers!  We all had great fun.

I especially enjoyed the MHF  article on "My Uncle – Jack Black” by his niece “Janice Brown”. (See story below)  Jack Black and Dave Bedore  were my science partners – front row and  definitely leaders.  I will never forget the day our phosphorous experiment went awry and we set Judy Fraser’s angora sweater alight at the desk/table behind us. Brief high drama. Judy was good natured about it.

I remember Jack as a very enthusiastic  fellow with loads of energy.   He always had at least 6 girls in a swoon with his charm and head of jet black hair. He stood out in a very positive way.   If I recall correctly, he had an out of town connection in Campbellford on some weekends in grade 12.   And boom – grade 12 came to an end and we all pursued life in different directions.  

Long live Marmora High memories. It was a great beginning  to life in the modern world.Thanks again, with kind regards. "

 William Andrews
                                                             CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON MARMORA HIGH.

My Uncle, Jack Black

By niece, Janice Brown

My Uncle Jack about 20 years old

A link to Wikipedia overview of Larry Uteck’s life – Larry was a Canadian professional football athlete. In his own account, Larry credits Jack with being a key inspiration to him, during the time he was a student of Jack’s. Larry named one of his sons after Jack’s grandson, Luke, in honour of the positive influence Jack had on his life. (Larry refers to Jack as John Black in the article)  CLICK HERE

If you know the name Jack Black, you come to this piece of writing with your own memories and stories relating to my uncle. I am confident that there is a collective history that would depict a man with a ‘bigger than life’ personality, a love for fast cars and the wild side of life; a man who experienced a wide variety of escapades, some of which ended with a quiet diminishing of activity, but more often, involved an encounter with police and concluded with a trip to either jail or the psychiatric wing of a hospital.
If you know anything about Jack from the good ol’ Marmora days, I don’t have to retell any of those stories here; you will likely have your own stories, either from your direct experience or from the wild tales that swirled around the town following the many times that Jack was ‘on a tear’.

Jack has bipolar disorder, a term that wasn’t even known when he was acting out the extreme behaviours instigated by this disorder. Much more is understood about this illness now. In retrospect, during the 1950s and 1960s, Jack and many others with this illness, offered much ‘data’ to be studied and learned about bipolar disorder (including Margaret Trudeau). Much of Jack’s life history - encounters with doctors during manic episodes, and psychiatric assessments over decades - has actually contributed greatly to the understanding of the illness.
I have accumulated many memories of my uncle; numerous personal experiences and countless secondary stories, most of which start with ‘Jack Black is your uncle?! Well, I remember the time when……’

I would like to relay a story here that has not risen to the legendary status of the collective ‘Tales of Jack Black’.

When Jack was 15 years old, he was swimming at Crowe River. He had come out of the water and was laying on a teeter totter, sleeping. He was awakened by the cries of two female lifeguards. He then saw Nick Price who was yelling ‘a boy is drowning’! Jack ran onto the bridge and looked into the water, where he saw a body floating down the river. Jack jumped off the bridge, grabbed the boy and dragged him from the river.

Pat McNamara

Letter of Gratitude

As Jack recounted this story, he told me that he had never been trained in first aid or CPR but instinctively laid the boy on his stomach and began to pound on his back. The boy, who turned out to be Pat McNamara at the approximate age of 10, began to cough and then threw up a great amount of water. Once Pat was fully awake, Jack picked him up and carried him to his home and up to his mother’s bedroom. Pat made the comment ‘you are always there Jack’, referring to the buddy relationship between them, in which Jack had acted somewhat as a protector to Pat, who had experienced some bullying.

In the coming weeks, Jack was invited to attend a Marmora Town Council meeting, where he was honoured with the presentation of a gold ring, which had been engraved with the following message; ‘1955 Lifesaving, Marmora’. Jack also received an expensive gift, along with a lovely and very heartfelt letter from Pat’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. McNamara. 

My uncle has told me many stories over the years.  As I was speaking to him of the idea of writing a story about him for this publication,  he quietly recounted this memory.  As he told this story, Jack expressed much gratitude for this occurrence at the river. Among many, very extreme experiences that Jack remembers of his life, he holds this memory with particularly great fondness; as anyone would who had saved a life.

Bob Clemens, Jack Black, Wilf Terrion - 1956 

1957-1958 Marmora High School  Boys Noon Hockey Champions,    back:Harold Maloney ?, ?, Gord UniackE    middle row l to r    ?, ?, Gary Kelly   Jack front and centre


Vince Lynch

"I am one of the protagonists in this story, Pat McNamara. I have never forgotten that day or any other memories of Jack and his up and down struggles in his life. There was always some kind of situation or story about Jack that would bring back that infamous day to vivid memory. Janice’s story gave me a few more details of this story that I was not aware of but do really appreciate.

There was however another actor in this drama, Vince Lynch; my swimming partner that hot summer day under the Marmora bridge. While trying to swim between the piers, Vince was the first to realize I was in real trouble. He later described me “like a dead frog floating in the river”. Vince made two great decisions: the first was to not try and get me himself and the second was to obviously yell for help and get the attention of those on the beach. Therefore my first memory of that event is Jack and Vince.

Just one final note, I have no recollection of either of my parents ever talking to me about that event but I do know I was registered into swimming classes that summer down at the beach."

Thanks for writing, Pat!

If you have a Jack Black story to share,  drop us a line.  CLICK HERE


WWII German archaeologist connects with Marmora


(The following is a letter we received recently from Sven Polkläser.  He was  born 1966, and is an  IT specialist. In 2010, he became a volunteer member of the LVR, the Office of Soil Architecture in the Rhineland, Germany.  He is the author of several publications on the results of archaeological projects.)

with Sven of German archaeologists with Sven Polklaser on the right

My name is Sven Polkläser and I work as a volunteer in Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia) in soil monument conservation.

For some years now, World War II has been part of archaeology in Germany. I do aerial archaeology with a team of volunteers.   i. e. we investigate plane crashes during World War II, search for crash places and determine the fate of the crews.

For a few weeks we have found in Erkrath, a small town south-east of Düsseldorf (south of the Ruhr area) the remains of a Halifax type MK VII.  Through entries in the Erkrath death register we were able to prove that the bomber is the NP689.

The pilot of NP689 was Stewart Millen Bonter. (Marmora- 1918-1945)

In various sources you can find different statements about the fate of Stewart Millen Bonter. This is because on the same day (March 15, 1945)    a pilot with almost the same name (I.W.Bonter) was shot down in the attack on the oil refinery at Misburg at Hanover (aircraft: Lancaster NE119).

Our previous research (which is just beginning) has revealed the following story of the attack:

The Bomber Command sent in the late afternoon hours of March 15, 1945 in total 500 aircraft on their way to Germany, around to attack Hagen and the oil refinery in Misburg  at Hanover. A total of 267 aircraft, including 134 Lancaster, 122 Halifax  and 11 Mosquitos had Hagen as their destination. To this attack unit belonged the bomber  "Moonlight Mermaid" type Halifax B Mk VII with the serial number NP689 and the Identifier QO-M of the 6 Bomber Group, RCAF 432 Squadron. "Moonlight Mermaid" took off  17:07 clock (18:07 clock MEZ) from the East Moor airfield.  Between 20:30 and 20:45 clock  the bombers threw  about 1,000 tons of bombs on Hagen.

"Moonlight Mermaid" was (hit)  in the approach shortly before the goal Hagen  by Flak in 4800m altitude.   The pilot Stewart Millen Bonter, the flight engineer Douglas Colquohoun and the Mid / Upper gunner Darwin Cameron Lawton died in the crash. The flight  Officer H. Vachon, Flight Officer A. Hinchcliffe and Wireless Operator Eiler Villy  Anderson survived the crash and became captive. The Rear Gunner Thomas  Delmer Scott had already jumped over Hagen shortly after receiving the flak hit.   Scott was captured on 17 March, but not transferred to the Wehrmacht, but admitted in the  Court prison in Hagen. On the morning of April 3, 1945, Scott,   along with 11 Hungarian "volunteers" of the Wehrmacht,   shot by the Gestapo in the woods near Hagen in a bomb crater.

From military records we could determine that for a long time the place where Stewart Millen (Bonter) was buried could not be found.   Only in November 1947 were the graves of Stewart Millen Bonter, Douglas Colquohoun and Darwin Cameron Lawton found in the  cemetery of Erkrath. On 21.11.1947 the three airmen were evacuated and transferred to the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.


Stewart Millen was the youngest  child of John Wadsworth Bonter and Ada Beatrice Lough.  Brother of Mildred, Hazel, Herbert, Raymond (my father), Eldon and Grace. His body is buried in Reichwald Forest, Germany.


"Remember, I'm going to be calling the roll as you come up and I shall have all your individual records before me."

Stewart with sister Grace

The actual crash site of the "Moonlight Mermaid" remained unknown until we could find it a few weeks ago.  I would be very interested to get more details (photos, documents, etc.) for my research work.
My question: Are there any descendants of the Bonter family in Mamora to whom you could pass my request?

You can gladly give my address data:
Sven Polkläser,  Akazienweg 2,   42579 Heligenhaus,   Germany

I thank you in advance for your support.
Yours sincerely Sven Polkläser



Ronald Barrons SENT US THIS PHOTO AND ADDS:     Note, there was no hydro, but they had phones, which they'd had from in the 1920's. Hydro came in 1949. I was happy to have found this photo in my Uncle Charlie's collection in that it shows the windmill I knew the farm had, but that I never seen.

Ronald Barrons SENT US THIS PHOTO AND ADDS:     Note, there was no hydro, but they had phones, which they'd had from in the 1920's. Hydro came in 1949. I was happy to have found this photo in my Uncle Charlie's collection in that it shows the windmill I knew the farm had, but that I never seen.

Tom Vansickle with his parents,  Annie and John

Tom Vansickle with his parents,  Annie and John

Methuen Township was surveyed in 1833 by Henry Ewing (who,  by the way,  drowned in Lake Scugog in 1841).  At that time,  it was a very heavily forested township.  There were no roads except bush roads which some of the lumber men used in the winter to cut logs,  mostly white pine which were taken out to the rivers and lakes to be floated down to the saw mills.  Both the Gilmour and Rathbun Lumber Companies worked this area.   Tom Vansickle brought the last large river drive to Marmora from north of Tangamong Lake to Pearce's Mill in Marmora about 1920.  Dan Ellis brought a small drive about 1921.

In the south east corner,  there was some granite rock;  a little farther north,  there was an outcrop of lime stone covered with very heavy clay, which became very good farmland, when the timber was taken off.  John Vansickle first registered land in Methuen in 1833.

According to a write-up in a local paper by Frank Sopha,  who died in 1975 at the age of 90  what is now known as the Vansickle Settlement was first known as the Soph Settlement.

James Stephen Sopha and his wife were the first to settle there in a very virgin timber (Lot 6, Concession 1, Methuen Township).  They were French,  from Quebec,  which was then called Lower Canada.  They moved from Campbellford,  through Belmont.  They cleared the land and built a log cabin until they could clear more land and build a two story log house and a barn.  They had four sons and three daughters.  The nearest store was at Garrison (now known as Preniveau), about 15 miles away. The nearest medical help was at Stirling They would walk to Marmora, hire and horse and ride to Stirling The Sophas and Vansickles, perhaps the VanVolkenburghs and Coles, were in there about the same time.

Vansickle School SS10.jpg

The Vansickle school, one-room schoolhouse which was used for many years, was destroyed by fire in 1990 My wife, Freda (Ellis) Barrons and her brothers and sisters attended the Vansickle school, from 1930- 1936 Her teacher was Miss Lucy (Wing) Buchanan Although the school was small, at that time its enrollment was around 40 pupils.

Beside the school was a small cemetery (about 6 graves) Two infant children of John Henry and Sarah (Vesterfelt) Johnson were buried there They had their own cheese factory, the building, which is located south of the house along the road, is still standing (Jan 1996) although deteriorating.    When they first moved in it was likely that they used a team on oxen on a jumper,  loaded with all their worldly possessions piled on.

Some of the 3rd generation of Sophas worked in lumber woods (Jim Sopha and his brothers).  The men would sometimes be gone for several weeks at a tie.  Their wives would be left at home to raise the family and care for the livestock.  Jim Sopha,  who was working one winter in the bush, had his team of horses killed when a tree fell on them.  He was paid about $1.25 a day for man and team.  This included board and feed for the horses.  He paid $500.00 for a team to replace them.  Jim Sopha and his wife buried two young children on their property on the south-east corner of Lot 7, Concession 1,  Methuen Township.

Some of the Sophas went to Cobalt around 1900 to mine silver.  Cobalt was a new mining town.  Several men from that area went north as they had worked in the mines at Cordova and were experienced miners.     Elmer Sopha,  a nephew of Charles Sopha,  was a lawyer and became a Member of Parliament for the area (Nickle Belt).  Charlie stayed at home and married a school teacher,  Sophrona Hurley.  They raised a family, finally leaving the farm and moving to Marmora for a few years.  They are buried there.  One son,  Clarence,  took over the farm  and lived there with his wife,  Keitha,  and son,  Darrell.  Darrell was the sixth generation to live on the farm.  The land grant from the Province was for 400 acres.

The nearest post office to Vansickle was at Warriston,  now known as Cordova Mines.

There was a saw mill on the Deer River,  between Deer (Cordova)  and Mudturtle Lakes.  This is perhaps where the lumber was sawn for all the buildings in Vansickle.  The river was dammed up to provide water power for the saw mill.  The site of the dam is still called the Johnston place (1996).  The mill was owned over a period of time by a Mr. Downs,  a Mr. Johnston,  and a Mr. Airhart.  There is a bay on the east side of Mudturtle Lake called Airhart's Bay.  I recall being told by Jim Minihan that he bought hemlock lumber from the mill for $2.00 per 1000 board feet.  The saw mill was moved nearer to the stave mill owned by Mr. Cole and Mr. Laby.  Staves were used to make barrels.  The stave mill employed about 20 men.  The staves were sawed,  shaped, steamed and bent,  then drawn by horses to Cordova to be loaded on rail cars.

Arabs in Deloro

Another Story by W.J. Cottrell (circa 1927)

I have never seen,  but have read about transients to Canada in summer time arriving in winter apparel.  The following story has the order of things reversed.  Three Arabs,  sent by a Montreal  employment agency,  to wit ---"  Abdul Mohammed and his two companions arrived at Deloro in the depth of winter attired in well laundered cotton shirts.  They were men of short stature and were put to work in the Silver Plant.

How their teeth chattered in the unaccustomed climate.  They tried to keep warm,  pulling the glowing slag pots toward the dump,  but all in vain.  Not once did they remark "Allah be praised".  They lasted a mere shift and next day were Montreal bound.  No fellow countrymen of theirs ever followed in the wake.                                                                                                                                     For more on Deloro employees,  CLICK HERE.

When silver was discovered in Cobalt,  a town in Northern Ontario,  the Deloro Mining and Reduction Company purchased property in Deloro and began to set up a silver refinery,  with arsenic as an important by product.  It seemed foolish not to base the operations at Deloro  since the cobalt ore,  from which silver is extracted, contained arsenic and the deloro mine operators were experienced in dealing with ores containing arsenic.  Professor Stafford Kilpatrick of Queen's University had developed a new process to extract silver from cobalt ore,  of which the company made use.

Remembering Nov. 11

With Remembrance Day in mind,  Kevin Potter sent us this letter:

This a picture of our father,  Sid  Potter,   who served from 1944 to 1952.  Our parents  "landed " in Marmora from England via Toronto in 1954.  Sid worked as a millwright at the mine  from 1954 to 1974.   I and my four siblings (Steven, Malcolm, Janice and Jo-Anne) were raised in Marmora and have such  fond memories of growing up there. It was like our own Mayberry.

Our father passed away in May 2016  at the age 92.

There is one picture of him posted on the  Marmora Historical website installing an electric motor at the  Marmora arena. I remember helping him as a kid rebuild the ice plant for the arena.
Our parents often talked about how they considered Marmora their "real" home.



In 1945,  89 year old Jacob Wilkes took daily walks down Forsyth Street in Marmora,  looking for old friends with whom he could "chin" about the old days in the timberlands of Hastings County.

A Pearce Co lumber drive on the Crowe River.  Marg Monk reported "Walking boss was Jacques (Jacob) Wilkes, father of Mrs. Garth Sabine."

Mr. Wilkes was born Oct. 3, 1856,  on Lot 18, Concession 5, Marmora Township. (Up Gulf Road or Quinn Road)  His parents were Owen Wilkes of Rawdon Township and Susanne Conley of Stirling,  who,  after their marriage,  moved to Marmora Township,  the former having been hired by the late George Campion to work on his farm.

Jacob attended the Wells School.(Beaver Creek?) His first teacher was Miss Eagles,  and another was Miss Eliza Wiggins,  whose father was George Wiggins,  prominent in the municipal life of Marmora Township ,  back in the 1860's. 

First to hire Jacob was Richard Briggs on the 6th Concession of Marmora,  who,  besides farming,  operated a sawmill.  A year later he was with the Rathbun Company cutting logs,  and not long after,  he became a woodranger  for the Pearce Co. and G.B. Airhart.

Pearce Lumber Camp

"I helped to make the timber for the first cheese factory in the township - Ira Cook's," said this veteran.  "Emery Demarse hewed it on the next property where they put up the factory.  Larry Hanlon was on the land at the time."



He referred to Jellie's Bridge,  which was erected by the father of the late Constable Charles St. Charies of Madoc.  In those days there used to be a store and post office at the bridge, kept by English Ray.

An old woodranging map is a prized possession given to him by John Stanley,  a noted woodranger in his day,  who died at an advanced age in Marmora some years ago (before 1945)  He used to take hunters to the foot of Thompson Lake with his team when he was young. 

"Those were the days",  he remarked,  "when people thought nothing of walking to church in Marmora and back from points of the township ten miles distant"

St. Peter's Anglican Church, Queensborough


           Mr. Wilkes was married in St. Peter's Anglican Church,  Queensborough on June 11, 1902,  to Martha Monetta Franklin,  of the Township of Madoc,  Rev. George Code officiating.  (Witnesses were Thomas Board and Tildo Franklin.)    He was a member of St. Andrew'sUnited Church,  and joined the Masonic Lodge in Marmora in 1910.

In the course of the Great War,  despite his age,  he enlisted with the Canadian Engineers, 254th Battalion.  (Children:  Beatrice Linton of Barrie,  Bessie Sabine of Marmora and Frank of Toronto.

Original article by W.J. Cottrell -  1945  

John/Dorothy Grant wrote:  How interesting. So love reading the stories. Richard Briggs was my GGGrandfather. My grandmother being Adelaide Briggs daughter of Isaac. Isaac son of Richard.



Letter from David Young

My great-grandfather, Jesse Neal (1854-1915), was Marmora's blacksmith. I think there are still Neals living in the Marmora area. My great grandparents had a farm in the Bonarlaw district, where my grandfather, JohnArthur Wilen, who was working on this farm, met  my grandmother Veta Pearl Neal.  Veta was born on 20/5/1893, and John was born on 29/07/1897. Their first child, my mother Pearl Elizabeth, was born in Toronto on 28/12/1918, which puts Veta and John meeting on the Bonarlaw farm prior to 1918. 

I have attached a few photos from that time. The most historically important is likely the one of Jesse standing outside Marmora's blacksmith smithy/forge. 


My story is ongoing and I am coming to Marmora in two weeks to try to find more about my Leggett and McMullen families who lived here in the early and mid 1800's. This is my GG Grandmother Mary Leggett McMullen and her husband, Alexander McMullen. Alexander was born in 1826 in Canada and I am trying to find out who his parents are. Mary was born in Marmora July 30, 1831. Her parents were Joseph Henry Leggett and Catherine Cain Leggett. I know nothing about her parents.

Cheryl Dieter


Cordova Free Methodist Church

 Our family lived in Cordova Mines from 1943-1947 when my Dad was the Pastor of the Free Methodist Church. I started Public School there and was pleasantly surprised to find the pics of my sister Lois and I in the group pics. We lived in the parsonage beside Barrons' Store. My siblings Lois, James (Jim),and Eunice moved there and Willie, John and Esther were born in the parsonage. I have many, many fond memories of our years there, in spite of having no electricity, no refrigerator, no indoor plumbing and no tap water, We did have an ice box and a cistern and a gas engine on the washing machine!!! How parents managed to raise families in those war time years would boggle the minds of young people today! We were blessed to have a roof over our heads, a good bed to sleep in, food in our tummies and most of all great neighbours and friends.


The Parsonage                                                                    Photo by Wayne VanVolkenburg

Inspired by Glen Allan Park

Artist and former owner of Glen allan Park,  Elizabeth Berry,  sent along the following memories:

Catching frogs

"Attached are  a couple of  my works from the 70's.  At the time and before we became environ-mentally aware, kids used to catch frogs for the summer frog race at Glen Allan Park.  Often it was the height of their stay as they spent up to a week looking for one.  Moms were never far away and sometimes took them out in a boat or canoe and when the children caught a big frog in the net and tossed him in the boat, mom would shriek and jump out.   There were, of course, strict rules.  No excessive handling or touching the frog and all were carefully watched as they had to go back into the water they came from.  Some summers there was a party afterwards with hot dogs in the rec hall.  The winners got a trophy and ribbons but all kids got some kind of  treat.  Then it was rest time before the evening hayride with Charlie Crowe.

spring animals

The second picture is the spring animals that are still there and being used.  Dan and I bought them in 1976 from Paris Playground Equipment and it drained our bank account that year.   They have provided thousands of hours of fun for kids (and a few adults), while parents lounged beside them on the beach.




Remembering 19 Forsyth St in 1947

My name is Anne-Mae Archer; my family moved from Toronto to Marmora in July of 1947. I was 1 ½ years old.   The story  began during WWII.  My dad,  Charles Archer,  was stationed in Holland in 1945 where he met and married my mother Annette van den Berg. I was born in Holland on February 9th, 1946 and came to Canada on the Queen Mary in August 1946.

Charles Archer was looking for a career and a home for his growing family. They had been renting in different rooming houses in Toronto. I don’t know how Charlie found out about an auction in Marmora, but he purchased the taxi and trucking business from the estate of the late William Sanderson and started running the business June 9th 1947.  Mrs Annette Archer and their two daughters,   Anne-Mae and Mari-Lou,  joined Charlie in Marmora in July of 1947.

As the house was large,  Charles and Annette rented part of it to Mr and Mrs Lorne Gawley and their two daughters. Mrs Gawley was also a Dutch War bride. My parents thought that the house was haunted; there was a set of stairs at the back of the house going to the second floor which was closed and locked at night. It was a hook and eye type lock and  every morning when Annette checked,  the door was unlocked.

Charles and Annette met and became good friends of Tom and Bessie McCann well known residents of Marmora. They became my god parents.   I recall,  when I was a little older,  I picked up the phone and a female voice said hello and I said Bessie? The operator at the other end knew who Bessie was and put me through. My mother came into the room and found me talking to Bessie, but she had not heard the phone ring. Bessie said “you called me”. I do remember their store in Malone, part of which was a post office and under no circumstances could we go behind that counter.

My sister, Mari-Lou was baptised on November 2nd, 1947 by Rev. E.M. Cadigan at St. Andrews United Church, at the same time Mr and Mrs Lorne Gawley also had their daughter,  Shirley Marie,  baptised.   In 1948 I needed my tonsils removed; the closest hospital was in Belleville. There was a young new doctor in town, Dr. Donovan. My mother told me that Dr. Donovan removed my tonsils in his office and my mother was assisting with the anaesthetic.  

Living on the main street at 19 Forsyth St we were next door to the Texaco Gas Station. My sister and I used to sneak over there when no one was looking; the men at the gas station would give us a nickel. When I think about it now it was a very dangerous thing to do, two little girls wandering around where cars pulled in to get gas.

In August of 1949 both my sister and I  contracted polio and were sent to Toronto to the Thistletown hospital, and then later to Sick Children’s hospital. It was a hard time for Charlie and Annette being separated from their small children. Because of the distance they could only visit once in a while. I  was in the hospital for six months and Mari-Lou was in the hospital a year and three months.

Charlie had trouble making a go of the taxi business and had to sell the property and move to Madoc. The house was eventually torn down and the Plaza Theatre was erected on the site.

After Madoc we moved to Deseronto. Then in 1952 Charlie built a small house outside of Marmora on the rocks, west of Crowe River and on the highway. We had no running water because of the rocks. By then I was in grade one and took the bus to school everyday. I do remember that to catch the bus I needed to cross the highway.   If I saw a vehicle coming in either direction I would not cross the road. The highway wasn’t as busy then as it would be today.

Finally in May of 1953 our family moved to Orillia, where Charlie’s mother and older sister lived. At that point my mother put her foot down and said we are not moving again. We needed a family doctor and lucky for us Dr. Donovan had already moved to Orillia and became our family doctor.

In the early 1980’s my husband and I were travelling in eastern Ontario and on the spur of the moment we decided to stop at Marmora and visit Bessie. We stopped at a phone booth in town, I was going to look up Bessie’s number and call her to get directions to her house. The phone book had been ripped out of the booth. I noticed the local post office just down the street and thought I would take a chance and ask in there for directions. The postal employee was very helpful, knew who Bessie was and gave us directions to her house.

Just a note of thanks to the Marmora Historical Society, I did not know the name of the street we lived on until I found your site. All correspondence only said Mrs. C Archer, Marmora, Ontario Canada.

Click here for more on 19 Forsyth, Marmora,  and more pictures!


ALLAN STACEY from Chelmsford writes:  

Sudbury M ayor William Ellis  and Copper Cliff mayor Richard Dow paused in tribute .  Sudbury.Dec. 1963 (INCO Triangle)

Sudbury Mayor William Ellis and Copper Cliff mayor Richard Dow paused in tribute .  Sudbury.Dec. 1963 (INCO Triangle)

A lot of us who travel the back roads often wonder about the stories of those who lived in houses such the Ellis and the Seabreeze houses pictured in the stories  below.   I notice the name Ellis. 

  I went to the Provincial Institute of Mining, at Haileybury and boarded with Jim Ellis, son of William "Bill" Ellis, who at the time, 1962-63, was Mayor of the, then, city of Sudbury. Local historian, Gary Peck, inter-viewed Mr. Ellis as part of a Sunday radio series on local folks. Mr. Ellis told Mr. Peck that he was born in Marmora on March 19, 1914, married a Marmora girl, (Bertrand?)   moved around at various jobs and eventually ended up in Sudbury where he worked for the International Nickel Company (Inco - now Vale).                                        Click here for is full interview 
                                                                                                                            Looking forward to more "house" stories.

A CORDOVA MINES STORY by Anthony Seabreeze

Believe it or not I grew up in this home and so did my Mom and her Family. This house was no mansion by any sense of the imagination but when my parents sold the house it was still livable. I have many fond memories of this house from Saturday night guitar and fiddle playing, pulling out of the driveway after freezing rain and sliding to the bottom of the hill eyes wide and white knuckling the steering wheel. Snow so deep you couldn't see the farmers fences and playing hockey at the outdoor rink in Cordova,

Scott's dam - Fire road 18, Belmont Twp

swimming at the deer river bridge and partying at Scott's Dam until the wee hours, sneaking in after hoping we didn't get caught which we always did but my parents were cool.I now have my own family, home and now making new memories but I will never forget where I'm from my roots and my home                         

  .From website :  issues-cordova-mines.html
Comment by "Al"  And I spent the first 10 years of my life living next door. In a house that was ventilated by cracked window frames and well-settled walls. My lifelong fear of snakes the result of a filled in ancient well on the property that was an ideal hibernaculum. Hard to believe a guy who has done so much and been all over the planet had such humble beginnings. Childhood is a funny thing. We go through it, then we spend the rest of our years motivated by one of two things. Recapturing it, or running away from it. A.I.

A Vansickle Story by Kim Ellis

This house pictured once belonged to my Great Aunt Evelyn and Great Uncle Don Ellis. (My grandfather's brother). They lived in New York State and would come spend summers at The White House, or the Screen House(to the west and at the top of the hill - long since fallen down) or at the cottage at the lake. That cottage was struck by lightning and burned to the ground when there was no storm. 

We would walk from our cottage on the lake to go see them and enjoy a treat of cookies and lemonade while my aunt played or painted and my uncle told stories of growing up there. The Ellis' were early inhabitants of this beautiful piece of Canada. 

The White House and the black and white log cabin on Vansickle Rd. belonged to his parents. Lots of memories at The White House that is slowly being reclaimed by the earth. My cousins still own the land but as they live in the states it's become a part of our family history.

Written July 10, 2014


Written in 1965 by 87 year old Mrs .Gertrude Caverly of Marmora Township

"In 1860 our roads were rough and in spring very muddy. The long swamp, one  mile and a half long was only a corduroy road.  My mother-in-law,  when she had to cross it,  would prefer to walk and carry her baby rather than ride over such a rough road.  Our neighbours were Campions, Wells,  Airharts, McIlwains, Cooks, Dwiers,  Maloneys, Inksters and Hamiltons.

Most of the work on the farm they used oxen on a plow or a' stone boat. One time a family wanted groceries so hitched a team of oxen to a wagon and the lady rode behind and the man in front with a long whip and a line to goad the oxen.

Recollections of domestic life. Soap making,  1884. The farmer is pouring water into the ash barrel to make lye; his wife is boiling a kettle of fat. Lye and fat produce soft soap.

We were the only ones had a potash kettle and they often got it to butcher their hogs., My father-in-law and a neighbour once wanted to make potash  (the water-soluble part of the ash formed by burning plant material; used for making soap, glass and fertilizer) 

They cut several trees, piled and burned them, put the ashes in a salt barrel and poured on water;   saved this and boiled it down until the kettle was red and then they had potash,   which was sent away for some cash to a soap company.

Money was scarce, so each one tried some way to have cash. Women would go to the forest for wild berries and dry them. Some men would trap for furs, hunt for deer or fish for food. My father moved north of Cordova,  now from near Campbellford,  to a forest of 200 acres. He built and cut a clearing for a home and today, it is a very nice tract of land. The neighbours there were Russels, Wiggins, Cars, Allens, Breakenridge, Minihans. Maloneys, Wannamakers, Crippens,  Caverleys and McConnels.

Once our P.O. was Wariston but now it is Cordova and most of this land around here was crown land and at that time it had to be occupied for a few years before a crown deed was got out.The only farms remaining in this settlement over 100 years  still are  occupied by the older people, ancestors,  and carrying the same name,  such as the old Caverly home, a few more miles down the way.

When we first moved there I got very lonely and ran away over two miles before they caught me. I hated it so bad. This Cordova was a gold mine and it made lots of work and many came for miles to work there.

I managed the P.O. myself and,  as these miners sent money to their homes,  we had no  trouble with it.  Our mail came from Blairton to Wariston  then on north toVansickle P.O. There was a small store  near Cook's corner and a there was a cheese factorynear. there too.

North of Pleasant Corners Community,  back on what we call the common, were two families settled by the name of Couch and McInroy. They made their living by burning potash and selling it for making soap: It was sent to a soap factory. Finally Mr. Couch took very sick and sent out to Pleasant Corners community for a couple of men to go in and make his will. Mr. James Hensy and Mr. Mills Caverly went and all he had to will was a pig and a dog and he wanted his wife to have them,   so they made his will and everyone was satisfied.

Caverly Century farm,  replacing log cabin                                                                photo by wayne vanvolkenburg

For a time we had no well, so Mr. Wiggins drew and brought some water to mother in her wooden churn.  Mother baked his bread for years and each time he gave her one loaf of bread for her work, as his wife was very ill.

My news are almost ended as I am nearly 87 years. I think I wrote plenty.  Good night ...."

Mrs. Gertrude Hay Caverly.


We had to walk over two miles to school called Cook's school. I passed for my last there when I was 13 years old, then went to Stirling High School - took two years work in one year. But been a farm woman the  rest of the time. When I was 10 years old on coming from school,  I had to cross a creek and the water was deep,  so I tried to walk a log on the side of the bridge but off went the bark and I too. So Patsy Maloney, a big boy, caught me by the hair and by so doing saved my life and carried me to a Mrs. Cars' home.

We used to send our milk to that Cook's cheese factory. The men had pig pens there and each farmer put one pig there and the cheese maker fed the pigs grain and lots of whey. I remember the first. binder two neighbors bot. It was Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Breakenridge's,   but others had reapers, or else cut the grain by hand and tied it up the same way.


house of manager of Cooks Cheese Factory                                                   Photo by Wayne  Vanvolkenburg

Wayne VanVolkenburg added that Cook's corner is where Clemenger road meets the Cordova road.  The second building on the right on Clemenger road was the old Cheese factory. There was a school close to where the cheese factory was located.  The area surrounding that location was referred to as the "Pleasant Corners Community".

Several of the Caverly family are buried at the Zion Cemetery.  Gertrude, her husband Edwin, and his parents, Edwin Mills and Elsie Williams, are buried there. Several other family members are buried there as well. If you check Don Shannon's photos of Zion you will find Gertrude's name on Caverly 4.



in the wake of the irish potato famine

THIS STORY  is an account written by William H. Minchin (1839-1914) of his life and struggle to become a school teacher,  revealing how very difficult it was for immigrants to start a new life for themselves in Canada in the 1800's.

But really the story begins with his mother, JANE GLADNEY MINCHIN , (1807-1900),  a brave and hardworking woman, who  faced the eight week  journey across the ocean with her husband, Daniel Minchin and five children,  only to be left a widow, upon her arrival in Marmora,  destitute and depending on relatives.

Sitting are Jane Gladney Minchin and her second husband,  Richard Laycock.  Standing are her two sons from her first marriage to Daniel Minchin - John on the left and William Henry on the right.


By the time William Minchin's family had arrived in Marmora,   Jane's father,  William Gladney (1780-1851) was well established as a merchant here,  had married his second wife, Elizabeth Hampton,  and produced a second Gladney family, who were the ancestors of the well known Gladneys that built 65 Forsyth Street, Marmora.