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First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site of Canada

Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1925/05/15

General view of the Receiving Station at the First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site of Canada, 2005.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, A. Roos, 2005.
General view
Williams-dug oil well near the museum with a three-pole derrick at the First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site of Canada, 2005.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, A. Roos, 2005.
General view
Spider wheel allowing changes of direction of jerker line,with a contemporary derrick in the background, First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site of Canada, 2005.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, A. Roos, 2005.
General view

Other Name(s)

First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site of Canada
First Commercial Oil Field
Premier champ pétrolifère commercial
Oil Museum of Canada
Musée du pétrole du Canada
Fairbank Oil
Fairbank Oil
First Oil Wells in Canada
Les Premiers puits de pétrole au Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1858/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/12/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located near Oil Springs, Ontario, the First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site of Canada is an industrial landscape featuring oil and gas extraction, transportation and refining equipment and buildings. The land itself is level and open, like the surrounding agricultural lands. The official recognition refers to the Fairbank and Oil Museum lands, the in situ equipment and the buildings in their existing spatial relationships.

Heritage Value

First Commercial Oil Field was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1925 because:
- the site is a rare industrial landscape possessing a large number of vestiges directly related to the beginning and to the evolution of the oil industry in the latter half of the 19th century in Canada;
- the site contains the first commercial oil well in the world, the first drilled well in Canada, the first gumbeds that were commercially used in the world, and the first gas gusher in Canada;
- the site, where the mining, refining and marketing of petroleum products once took place, had major impacts both financially and technologically not only in Canada but on the development of the oil industry in other countries.

The location of gumbeds in this area of Ontario had long been known to local inhabitants. The first commercial exploitation of the gumbeds was the extraction of bitumen for asphalt paving. Further study of the qualities of the oil revealed its technical applicability to numerous uses, while advances in drilling, refining and transportation techniques made the exploitation of these oil fields economically viable. The work undertaken here had significant impacts from both technological and financial aspects, on the development of the oil refining industry both in Canada and abroad.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2005.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- machinery, such as oil wells, rigs, the location of the original wells, tanks, receiving stations, as well as buildings such as barns and drive sheds;
- above-ground and below-ground archaeological resources, such as buried oil tanks, and surface depressions;
- support buildings such as barns and drive sheds;
- views across the oil fields, and the existing relationship between the in situ resources;
- the location and materials of these industrial remains.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1925/05/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Industry
Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

442

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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