Family story provides literary gold [Kirkland Lake history] -by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – November 3, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

A man takes his wife on a cruise around the world. A month later, she discovers his mistress on board and gets revenge on her husband the best way she can think of — by beating him and giving him a black eye.

The man in question was Ernie Martin, a prospector who came to Canada from England hoping to strike it rich. Ernie, who was worth $13 million in 1936, is rarely mentioned in history books and his story has never been told. Until now.

Brian Martin, a London Free Press journalist and author, penned Ernie’s Gold: A Prospect Tale, a book about the o r’s prospector’s life and how he made his money. He was in Sudbury on Wednesday for two public events at the Mackenzie Street branch of the Greater Sudbury Public Library.

“Ernie’s Gold is a story about Ernie Martin, who is my great uncle, my grandfather’s brother. When I was young, my father and grandmother used to talk about Uncle Ernie, how Ernie was the prospecting partner of Harry Oakes. Together, the two of them discovered the second-richest gold mine in the western hemisphere in Kirkland Lake, a town five hours northeast of Sudbury.

A few years ago, Michael Cashman, a doctor from Illinois, contacted Martin. Cashman is the great-nephew of Mary Violette, Ernie’s first wife and a fellow prospector, and was looking for information.

That got Martin digging through files, photos and other family mementos his dad had left behind.

“I was looking through boxes of information my father had left behind when he died, and I thought it was really interesting,” Martin said. “No one knows Ernie’s untold story, (and) I thought ‘who better to write this than me?’ ”

“(The book) is a rags-to-riches- to-rags tale of how he spent his money.”

While Ernie was worth $13 million in 1936, equivalent to $200 or $300 million today, by the time he died in 1949 he only had $12,000 to his name.

The reason?

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