While we Wait

While we Wait

Horatio Claude Barber in his Valkyrie. Original artwork by Terry Grace for the upcoming book Airy Somethings, the Extraordinary Life of the Aviation Pioneer, Horatio Barber.

We are so excited!

After a year of research and writing and countless emails back and forth across the pond, we finally pushed the button: Yes, please! Send us proof copies of Airy Somethings: the Extraordinary Life of the Aviation Pioneer Horatio Barber.

While we wait for those proofs to arrive, I thought now would be a good time to share some background on Horatio Claude Barber and how Terry and I teamed up to write the story.

Last August, the Cobalt Historical Society (CHS)received an email from Terry. He wrote:

“Wondered if you have any information on a company known as The Cobalt Open Call Mining Exchange.  I am researching a man called Horatio Barber who made at least some of his fortune with the above company, before becoming an aviation pioneer at Larkhill near Stonehenge.”

Terry wondered what does the term “Open Call” mean? Was it like a stock exchange? He had seen a postcard that showed the building and could just make out the name “Barber” on the sign board.

Cobalt Square and Horatio Barber’s Open Call Mining Exchange just left of centre. Cobalt Historical Society

As a volunteer with the CHS, one of my jobs is responding to queries such as this. Little did I know what was in store.

I referred Terry to an article written by Cobalt historian David Baldwin. In it, he described how the Cobalt Mining Exchange was the forerunner of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Back in the early days of the silver rush, much more attention was paid to the new discovery of silver around Long Lake (present-day Cobalt Lake) and the overnight growth of the town of Cobalt than to vastly larger city of Toronto. When someone asked, “Where’s Toronto?” the reply was, “Oh, that’s the town where you catch the train to Cobalt.” Which is remarkable considering that today, the Town of Cobalt is a degree or two above ghost town status.

So, yes, the Cobalt Open Call Mining Exchange was a stock exchange.

After a brief search of newspaper archives, I learned that a Mr. Barber was in Cobalt to open his exchange at the beginning of April, 1906. I offered to continue my search for Horatio Barber and closed out my reply by saying, “More, hopefully, to come.”

Let’s just say that our hopes were fulfilled, and then some!

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