The “F” Word

The “F” Word

In this case, “F” is for “Fraudster.”

Horatio Barber was a stock promoter in Cobalt in 1906 and then in 1907, he shifted his focus to Larder Lake. There he and his associates promoted the Larder Lake Proprietary Gold Fields Mine. First order of business was organizing a company.

Directors of a mining company, especially a wildcat*, were usually people of title or rank. Like a supermodel or sports legend endorsing a product, a recognizable name of some status attached to a mine will give the business a sense of legitimacy. The executives of Larder Lake Proprietary Gold Fields Mine were politicians, medical military officers, manufacturers, and real estate men.

Peter Kirkegaard. Source: Snell

Peter Kirkegaard was the only member of the board who had genuine experience in mining.

Before his involvement with Larder Lake, Peter Kirkegaard was Deloro’s mine manager when Canadian Goldfields Ltd. was working the property. According to the Marmora History blog, “he was a very serious researcher, with a good reputation with the universities and governments, and developed the process to refine white arsenic, the more profitable side of Deloro gold.”


Peter Kirkegaard was the only board member with mining credentials.

Whether or not he was aware of the fraudulent nature of the stock promotion, we cannot say.

What we do know is that Horatio Barber was a fraudster, a reputation that he managed to suppress once he had returned to the UK to start work in aviation.

You can read more about Kirkegaard and the other men who worked at Deloro on the Marmora Historical Foundation site.

*Wildcat definition: a property that has the potential to be a producing mine, but work has not yet been done to prove it.

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Airy Somethings, the Extraordinary Life of the Aviation Pioneer, Horatio Barber by Terry Grace and Maggie Wilson is available to purchase online and at local booksellers.


4 thoughts on “The “F” Word

  1. Some of our very famous families (in the US) got started on their wealth and fame through activities that were below the line. It’s amazing what you find during your research.

  2. It makes me think of a similar case in the UK. James Whitaker Wright lived the highlife and drew in gullible ‘personalities’ to give cover to a scheme to build the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway in London in about 1900. He issued a bond to finance the scheme, was out of his depth, had no idea how to build anything, and then used money from one company to finance other companies until it all came crashing down.

    I only know of that because of the history walks I go on sometimes. There I learned that one of the people defrauded by Whitaker Wright’s scheme was a man in Cambridge who rose from being a labourer to a butler at one of the University Colleges, to a successful property owner. And then he met Wright.

    1. Hi David – interesting to hear of yet another con artist from the same period. Also interesting to see the name “Wright”, a name that features in Barber’s aviation story. Must look into that.

      When the San Francisco press reported on Barber’s orchard scam in 1903, they suggested that he did not think up the scheme on his own, but that his was a copycat caper. He advertised in the London papers to lure people to come to the US, learn all about growing oranges, and at the end of their tuition, they too could take advantage of all that sunny California had to offer. The only one to take advantage, of course, was Barber, who after setting up his students in their bunkhouse, skedaddled with the tuition money.

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