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“Ernie’s Gold” recounts story of colourful Kirkland Lake prospector

Ernie Martin, a prospector who was instrumental in the discovery of gold in Kirkland Lake, is the subject of a new book, Ernie’s Gold, a Prospector’s Tale, by Brian Martin, his great nephew.An immigrant farmer from England, Martin teamed up with fellow prospector Harry Oakes for the October 1912 discovery of the fabulously wealthy Lake Shore Mine, which ultimately proved to be the second largest gold mine in North America.In exchange for his labour, Oakes gave Martin 100,000 shares of Lake Shore Mines, then valued at 25 cents apiece. By 1936, the value of the shares skyrocketed to $62.50, making Martin one of the richest men in Canada.Both Martin and Oakes built huge estates, partied with the idle rich and travelled the world during the Depression. Oakes eventually settled in the Bahamas in 1936 to escape the Canadian taxman and was brutally murdered there in July 1943, while Martin died in 1949, having squandered most of his fortune.

Described as “a lady’s man and a generous one at that,” Martin was twice married and divorced. An 11,300-square foot mansion he built in Miami Beach for his second wife, Vera, was listed for sale in 2009 for $29.9 million.

A book-launching party for Ernie’s Gold was recently held in Kirkland Lake at the Northern Ontario Mining Museum, which is located in a home formerly owned by Oakes.

The book can be ordered from General Store Publishing House at


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