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Oil, Discovery

The discovery of oil at Turner Valley in 1913 heralded the beginnings of Alberta's oil industry. Further exploration began almost immediately but did not tremendously alter the province's economy. Oil reserves at Turner Valley were more modest than future discoveries and the technology to adequately cultivate the resource was still being developed. Additionally, the control of resources for the Prairie provinces remained in the hands of the federal government until 1930. What is especially important about Turner Valley is that it sparked continued exploration for oil and natural gas, including the historic discovery of the Leduc oil field on February 13, 1947. No other event in recent history has accomplished more to change the economic, political and social climate of Alberta.

Jobs became plentiful in both the oil industry and the large service sector that emerged to support it. In contrast to the past, Alberta's cities and towns, not rural areas, became the destination of choice for immigrants. Although not all remained, a sizeable number of people from the United States and other countries and provinces arrived to lend their expertise to the development of the industry. The housing market boomed and, rich on resource revenues, the provincial government undertook massive infrastructure programs, building and paving roads and bridges throughout the province.

British American Oil Company Personnel, ca. 1947

British American Oil Company Personnel, ca. 1947

Imperial Leduc #1 Well

Imperial Leduc #1 Well