Oil Springs



Oil Museum of Canada                    
2423 Kelly Rd., Box 16
Oil Springs, ON N0N 1P0
Telephone:  (519)834-2840
Fax:             (519)834-2840

Lambton ‘Oil Firsts’ in Canada and the World:

1834 World’s first recorded purchase of a property for its oil reserves.

1852     World’s first petroleum company established

1858 First commercial oil well in North America.  
Canada’s first production of crude oil.  
    World’s first speculative oil boom.

1858 First commercial oil refinery in Canada.  
World’s first integrated oil company established.

      1860    Canada’s first successful drilled oil well.    

1859 The first oil periodical in Canada established.

1860    Greatest flowing well in Canada’s history.

1860 World’s first Oil Exchange opens for trading.

1862    Canada’s first oil gusher launches the second oil boom.  

1863    Fairbank invention of the jerker line system to pump multiple wells.
1866 First well ‘torpedoed’ with nitro-glycerine in Canada

1880    Founding of Imperial Oil refineries at Petrolia and London.
    Fairbank Oil becomes Imperial Oil’s largest supplier of crude.

1914    First gas gusher drilled in Canada.

1955 Chemical Valley becomes the largest petrochemical complex in the Commonwealth

1955 Canada’s first secondary oil recovery program

1982    North America’s first natural gas trading hub.

1989       First attempt to mine oil in Canada.
Prior to 1900, Lambton County supplied 90% of the oil needs for the Dominion of Canada.   Today, Fairbank Oil Properties and the few other producers at Oil Springs rank amongst the smallest suppliers of crude to Imperial Oil…

The world’s longest-producing oil family continues at Oil Springs, operating the world’s longest-producing oil field. 

thanks to Robert Tremain for sending the above item
For more information
Oil Museum of Canada
Oil Springs, Lambton County, Ontario


Charles Nelson Tripp of Woodstock, Ontario, joined with his brother and businessmen from Hamilton and New York City to form the International Mining and Manufacturing Company for the purpose of producing asphalt from the Ontario gum beds situated in Enniskillen Township. This was the first oil company formed in North America. Its charter empowered the company to explore for asphalt beds and oil and salt springs, and to manufacture oils, naphtha paints, burning fluids, varnishes and related products.

(Charles Nelson Tripp in the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame)


James Miller Williams, a manufacturer of railway carriages at Hamilton, bought Tripp's land and oil rights. Tripp stayed on the payroll as landman.



James M. Williams formed the J.M.Williams Company . After unsuccessful attempts at commercial production from the gum beds Williams hand-dug and cribbed a well 49 feet deep. It did not reach bedrock but produced as much as 150 gallons per hour by hand pump. The oil was refined for illuminating oil and lubricants.


Stagnant algae-ridden water lay almost everywhere and, looking for better drinking water, Williams dug a well a few yards down an incline from his asphalt plant. At a depth of 20 metres, the well struck free oil instead of water.

In 1858 it became the first COMMERCIAL oil well in North America, remembered as J.M. Williams No.1 at Oil Springs, Ontario

1860 Williams eventually abandoned his Oil Springs refinery and transferred his operations to Hamilton, Ontario. In 1860, the local newspaper carried his ad: "Coal oil for sale, 16 cents per gallon for quantities from 4000 to 100 000 gallons." Willimas reincorporated his firm as The Canadian Oil Company and operated facilities for petroleum production, refining and marketing - a mix that qualifies his company as the first integrated oil company in the world.
1862 On February 19, 1862, Hugh Nixon Shaw of Cooksville, Ontario, struck oil at 48 metres at Oil Creek, Enniskillen County, Ontario. This was Canada's first gusher, estimated to be good for 3,000 barrels per day.
1870 By 1870 Canada was exporting oil to Europe and had about 100 refineries in operation.

Please find here a ca. 1866 New York Times detailing the Petroleum Fields of Oil Springs,  Canada West. I purchased the paper in it's entirety.
The article has been scanned in 2 pieces. If I'm good, maybe someday this will be typed out and I can include it as a text document. Click on the exerts for the article in it's entirety.
  editor's collection

Here are some Oil Springs pics that I have. Our intention is to develop this page further but this is what there is so far.
More history and pics in the near future.

On a rainy Monday morning I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Fairbank Oil Property with Sylvia Fairbank sister of Charles Fairbank proprietor. The main focus were the Folk Art Statues done by Murray Watson of Oil Springs Ontario. Here for your enjoyment are the statues that represent the Fairbank family and past and present staff. These statues are on display near Oil Springs Oil Museum for all to see. To see these magnificent works of art travel to Oil Springs Ontario and stop in at the first Oil Museum in the world.

                                                                                                                        editor's collection
An interesting print that depicts the first oil well at Oil Springs.
 I snapped this via my iphone with no flash. Some day I will
remove it from the frame and scan it properly.
Recently purchased this print from Peter Clements local antiques dealer and auctioneer.


                                                                                                              editor's collection
Nice view showing a valley with oil wells and a shed with Central School
 and church on hill crest. ( ca.1907) I left this pic high resolution so you can enjoy the detail

These 3 pics are the likeness of Charles Fairbank senior known as Mr. Petrolia.















This interesting statue represents Sylvia Fairbank as  she points to the South

Sylvia  different view

pic 19

pic 20

Here is a closeup of one of the sculptures to ilustrate Mr. Watson's signiture .

For great Oil Springs pics check out Marcus Wandel's website. http://wandel.ca/oil/  

To view an interesting history (by an onlooker) of Oil and Oil Springs click on this book cover.

Students and staff from the Oil Springs Continuation School. Among those pictured are Mr Hugh Beaton and his wife. Mr. Beaton was principal of the school in 1896.

Hattie Woodward (later Mrs John Sproule), Donald McGregor, Annie Hartley, Clayton Hillis, Anne Gorslaine, Bill Rae, Eva Bartrum, Garnet McFadyen, Bertha Raymond, Wesley Coulter (Back row)

Bert Brown, Lulu Johnson, ?, Margaret Wilson, Mr and Mrs Beaton (Principal & his wife), Joe Smith, pearl Campbell, Frank Zimmer (2nd row)

Geo Campbell, Margaret Zimmerman, Chas Anderson, Mabel Beaton, Hugh Beaton, Bella Gray, Howard Ward, Jean Wilson (3rd row- presumably the front row) names by Emma Munro

Downtown Oil Springs ca.1920s. The link shows great detail.

George Penfound Harness shop downtown Oil Springs. ca.1908

Sproule & Wallace Meat Market ca.1908

More downtown Oil Springs ca.1908

                                                                                                                        editor's collection
Top of the hill looking West. Notice the elevated boardwalk to the left and the kegs beside the closest building. ca1908

                                                                                                                         editor's collection
Oil wells and a Jerker Shed.

                                                                                                                   editor's collection
The back of the pic says:"Bert Atkin standing outside Blacksmith shop.Sunnyside. Built about 1895"

An interesting envelope  from  ca.1862  to Oil Springs

An interesting envelope to Oil Springs ca.1865





Interesting pic of John Dotterer as seen on the back of the post card right. The caption on the bottom of the post card reads "Father Time at Oil Springs"

A ca.1956 pic of a steamer in Oil Springs.

Another view of old 1290 in Oil Springs.
Here are some pics from nearby Bothwell Ontario. These folks also have a rich oil history and hopefully in the near future there will be more here.






Don {centre} & Wilbert {left} Apps in front of their gas station at Oil Springs line and Highway 21
Looks to be about ca.1940s

                                                                                                          editor's collection
A young Scottish dancer signed Oil Springs ca. 1880s






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oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher oil gusher
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 All of these pics and more are from my own collection and from our contributors. If you would like to become a contributor, I just need a few minutes to scan what you have or send me your own scans.
Email Martin at martyd@ebtech.net