hide You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of University of Alberta using Archive-It. This page was captured on 17:38:42 Dec 08, 2010, and is part of the HCF Alberta Online Encyclopedia collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page. Loading media information
Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Canadian Petroleum Heritage
titlebar Home | About | Contact Us | Search | Sitemap | Sponsors spacer
hertiage community foundation, ckua, albertasource

The Birth of the Oil Industry

Page 1 | 2 | 3

Petrolia Oil Springs

In the United States, within a year of Drake's Titusville discovery, oil had been found in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Kansas; in Colorado in 1862, Wyoming in 1867, and California in 1875. For the U.S. oil industry, the 20th century roared in with the Spindle top discovery in Texas in 1901. Spouting oil at a rate of some 100,000 barrels a day, it was the world's first
great oil gusher. Oklahoma and Louisiana followed with giant discoveries, and in 1930 a bankrupt wildcatter, "Dad" Joiner, brought in the five-bil­lion-barrel East Texas field, North America's largest oil field for nearly 40 years.

In Canada the story was unfortunately different. Following the first wells at Oil Springs in EnniskiIlen Township, a few modest discoveries (giant by the standards of that day) briefly kept Ontario in the forefront of the new oil producing business. But the contrast with what was happening in the United States was drastic. In more than half a century, from the first wells
at Oil Springs until the first show of oil at Alberta's Turner Valley field, wildcatters had found less than some 100 million barrels of oil reserves in southwestern Ontario and some teasing indications in Western and Northern Canada.

The fact that Canada's oil potential lay dormant for so long following the Oil Springs discovery in Ontario reflects no lack of Canadian enterprise. Canadians were among the first oil gamblers, and if their efforts bore little fruit, it was because it was difficult to exploit the nation's petroleum poten­tial until the circumstances of geography, geology, technology, and eco­nomics had all combined to make the time ripe.

The earliest oil fields were found by a combination of two methods: sheer luck, and a rudimentary form of geological science that followed up surface indications. Seepages of oil and gas percolating from the ground pointed the way to the first-and some of the world's largest ­oil discoveries. Oil seeps led to Ontario's Oil Springs discovery; to Drake's discovery at Titusville, in 1859; to the Turner Valley discovery in Alberta in 1914; and to the Norman Wells field in the Northwest Territories in 1920.



Albertasource.ca | Contact Us | Partnerships
            For more on the oil industry in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Copyright © Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved