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Turner Valley (1913)

Turner ValleyCoal was the first resource that the ranchers of the turner valley mined, using it in stoves and heaters. William S. Herron moved from Ontario to Alberta where he bought an acreage near Okotoks. He noticed gasses coming from the banks in the Sheep River area. Herron believed that oil would also be preset. He bought the farm, acquired its mineral rights, and formed Calgary Petroleum Products. Herron relied on his investors for financing the well, such as oilman Archibald W. Dingman, lawyers James A. Lougheed, R.B. Bennet and rancher A.E. Cross. The Turner Valley gas plant, constructed in 1913, was the first petroleum production facility in western Canada.

In May 1914 they struck wet gas and oil at the Dingman well. News of the find hit Calgary like a bombshell and a horde of new exploration companies were formed. The excitement was so great that within one twenty-four hour period promoters formed more than 500 oil companies. Turner Valley became the cornerstone of Alberta's early oil and gas industry and became the training ground for the industry as we know it today. A down-dip crude “discovery” in 1936 was significant, making the only commercial field at the time. By 1946, the levels dropped and new discoveries in Alberta took centre stage. However, Turner Valley achieved a number of "firsts" in Canadian gas processing and served as a centre for the diffusion of expertise for the oil and gas industry in Canada and around the world.

Turner Valley and the $50-Billion Hangover

The Turner Valley oil field was small by industry standards, producing just under 66,000 barrels of oil over a ten year period, but its discovery was a critical stage in the evolution of Canadian, and specifically Albertan petroleum enterprise. In this excerpt from the JuneWarren publication, The Great Canadian Oil Patch: The Petroleum Era from Birth to Peak, author Earle Gray recounts the excitement that followed the discovery of oil in Turner Valley. Read more…

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