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Oil Springs in Lambton County, Ontario — Central Canada
 

First Oil Wells in Canada

Les Premiers Puits de Pétrole au Canada

 
 
First Oil Wells in Canada Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 12, 2014
1. First Oil Wells in Canada Marker
Inscription. English
The presence of oil in this locality was observed by early travelers and by the pioneer farmers who used it for medical purposes. In 1858, near Oil Springs, James M. Williams dug the first oil well in Canada and later established a refinery at Hamilton. In 1861, John Shaw, by drilling into rock, opened the first flowing well, its situation being Lot 18, Concession 2, Enniskillen Township. From these beginnings developed one of Canada’s most important industries.

French
La présence de pétrole dans cette région fut remarquée par les premiers voyageurs et les pionniers, qui l’utilisaient à des fins médicinales. En 1858, près de Oil Springs, James M. Williams creusa la premier puits de pétrole du Canada et créa plus tard un raffinerie à Hamilton. En 1861, John Shaw, en forant dans le roc, ouvrit le premier puits de pétrole à écoulement naturel dans le lot 18, concession 2 de canton d’Enniskillen. Cette découverte amorça le développement de l’une des industries le plus importantes du Canada.
 
Erected by Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada/Commission de lieux et monuments historique du Canada.
 
Location. 42° 46.382′ N, 82° 7.25′ W. Marker is in Oil Springs, Ontario
First Oil Wells in Canada Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 12, 2014
2. First Oil Wells in Canada Marker
The Oil Museum of Canada is in the background.
, in Lambton County. Marker can be reached from Kelly Road just from Gum Bed Line, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2423 Kelly Road, Oil Springs, Ontario N0N, Canada.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 23 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Victoria Hall (approx. 12.2 kilometers away); The Founding of Petrolia (approx. 12.2 kilometers away); Robert M. Nicol Library (approx. 12.3 kilometers away); The Founding of Dresden (approx. 20.9 kilometers away); Henson House (approx. 21.8 kilometers away); Josiah Henson (approx. 21.8 kilometers away); Spirituality and Community (approx. 21.8 kilometers away); Sawmill (approx. 21.8 kilometers away).
 
More about this marker. This marker is located on the grounds of the Oil Museum of Canada.
 
Also see . . .
1. Oil Springs, Ontario. Before the village was formed, the indigenous people already knew about the gum beds and used the sticky oil to waterproof their canoes. The place, originally called Black Creek, became the site of North America's first commercial oil well when asphalt producer James Miller Williams set out to dig a water well in 1858 and found free oil instead. (Submitted on October 31, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 

2. Oil Museum of Canada - Lambton County Museums
A Three-pole, spring-board oil derrick image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 12, 2014
3. A Three-pole, spring-board oil derrick
. The Oil Museum of Canada, in the Village of Oil Springs, preserves the site of the first commercial oil well in North America. Visitors from around the world come to learn the story of Canada’s Oil Pioneers – a unique and captivating era of history! (Submitted on October 31, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
Hugh Nixon Shaw and the Shaw Gusher - 1862 image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 12, 2014
4. Hugh Nixon Shaw and the Shaw Gusher - 1862
“At about ten o’clock on Friday morning… the ‘oil was struck,’ and it came rushing up with a will … filling the well in fifteen minutes, and shooting up a column of oil some 20 feet into the air… hundreds of barrels of oil were flowing around the well, over the road and into the creek.” - London Free Press, 1862

Shaw’s well was the first “gusher” in Canada, setting off a frenzy of drilling in Oil Springs. By the end of 1862, 1,000 wells were producing 12,000 barrels a day and Oil Springs’ population had rocketed to 3,000.

Captions: (left to right) Shaw drilled his well, instead of digging it, using the “spring-pole: drilling method. — You can try this out for yourself — Step up and down on the wooden treadle. This moves the flexible spring-pole up and down. An iron chisel drill bit, weighing 300-400 pounds, was suspended from the end of the pole to pound through the rock.; Shaw’s well gushed because it hit a porous, gravelly layer saturated with oil and gas under pressure which sent the oil streaming to the treetops.; With no large containers ready to receive the oil, the flow was eventually controlled with a “seed bag packer,” a leather sleeve filled with flax seed that expanded when wet.; The Oil Springs landscape soon sprouted a forest of 1,200 three-pole derricks made of local black ash poles. The derricks were used to lift drill rods, bits and cleaning tools in and out of the wells.
Model of a three-pole, spring-board oil derrick image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 12, 2014
5. Model of a three-pole, spring-board oil derrick
The Canadian Oil Refinery, Petrolia, Canada image. Click for full size.
circa 1910
6. The Canadian Oil Refinery, Petrolia, Canada
Oi Field, Oil Springs, Ont. Canada image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, n.d.
7. Oi Field, Oil Springs, Ont. Canada
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 31, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 324 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on October 31, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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