A Very Short History of Petroleum in Canada
Did you know that the discovery of the Medicine Hat gas sand made Medicine
Hat the first city in Alberta to get natural gas service? If not, you might
want to check out the timeline to learn about this and other important events
that took place in Canada's Petroleum History!
This timeline was developed by The Black Gold Regional Division No. 18 and
teachers Margaret Lyall, Kimberly Epp and Robina Baker.
1854: The first oil company in Canada is formed to use the asphalt beds that
were discovered in Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Erie.
1857: Workers at the asphalt beds drilled for water, and accidentally drilled
North America’s first oil well!
1883: Railway people drilling for water near Medicine Hat found natural gas
instead. The gas caught fire and burned the derrick.
1904: The discovery of the Medicine Hat gas sand made Medicine Hat the first
city in Alberta to get natural gas service. It was described as The City With
All Hell for a Basement!
1908: Calgary Brewing and Malting Company became the first customer to use
natural gas in Calgary.
1914: Oil and gas were discovered at Turner Valley, Southwest of Calgary. In one
day, more than 500 “oil companies” were formed. By 1917, there were just 17
1924: Alberta’s most spectacular blowout, at Turner Valley, shot 2 km of pipe
into the air. The well blew wild, the gas caught fire, and destroyed the rig.
Fires blazed for 21 days.
1936: In Turner Valley, there weren’t enough customers for all the gas, so
natural gas burned all year round at Hell’s Half Acre. The grass stayed green
all year round, and some migrating birds spent the winter there.
World War II: The Americans wanted a safe supply of oil to Alaska, so a
pipeline was built from Norman Wells in the Northwest Territories, to
Whitehorse in the Yukon.
1946: Imperial Oil had drilled 133 dry holes in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
They started drilling on November 20, on Mike Turta’s farm 15 km northwest of
1947, February 13: Leduc #1 started producing 155 cubic meters of oil a day.
1947, May 10: Leduc #2 hit a much bigger Devonian Reef.
1947: Imperial Oil started to build the town of Devon for its employees.
1948, March 6: Atlantic Leduc #3 blew out, and was out of control for 6
months. It eventually caught fire.
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