Description of Historic Place
The Oil Springs Railway Station was originally located in the village of Oil Springs and was moved to the grounds of the Oil Museum of Canada in May, 1960. The structure is 56 feet, 8 inches in length and 20 feet, 11 inches in width, with board and batten siding and a gable roof.
The property was designated by the Village of Oil Springs under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 2003-353, amended 2006-441) for its heritage value.
The Oil Springs Railway Station was constructed in 1885 by the Canadian Southern Railroad. Its original purpose was as a stop for the transportation of oil well supplies and oil drillers, although it was also used for farm supplies, coal, sugar beets and gravel. In addition, students boarded the train here to travel to middle school in Petrolia. It provided the most economical method of travel and transportation for the Village of Oil Springs until the stationed closed. The Oil Springs Railway Station was moved to the Oil Museum of Canada grounds in 1960, and now contains exhibits and artifacts reflecting its importance to the Oil Springs community. It has many attractive architectural features, including fine gable ends and bull's eye corner pieces on its interior doorframes.
The Oil Springs Railway Station has significant cultural value. While in operation, it represented a vital lifeline for the Village of Oil Springs. During the population boom due to 'oil fever' of the early to mid 1860s, Oil Springs was a hub of business and activity. Oil men producing hundreds of barrels of oil a day were inconvenienced by the lack of a railway station or decent roads to transport their goods to the closest rail stop at Wyoming (twelve miles away). When the railway finally came to Oil Springs in 1885, it provided the community with transportation for the oil business, as well as a cheaper and faster channel for travelling in and out of Oil Springs. Furthermore, it served as a symbol of the commercial activity that continued in the Village of Oil Springs in spite of the massive worker exodus that occurred in 1866 as the initial oil mania faded.
The structure retains many of its original features. The imposing freight doors and original freight room flooring provided visitors with a feel for the practical business importance of this structure. Conversely, the original ticket window in the waiting room, with its fancy wood trim and decorative bull's eye corners, allowed visitors to experience the excitement and innovation of readily accessible train transportation. Directly outside the Oil Springs Railway Station, the original cinder bed marks the rail line, and the structure's location preserves the original orientation of the station to the rail line. Further enhancing this area is a nearby tank car that depicts the loading of bulk oil that was shipped out from this location. The placements of the outdoor exhibits at the Oil Museum were constructed at the site of the first commercial oil well in North America.
The Oil Springs Railway Station has been placed near operational oil wells, most of which are still owned by the Fairbank family. The Fairbanks first discovered oil in this area and continue to produce oil using the original nineteenth-century jerker-line system which creaks and groans as the oil is pulled from the ground. That auditory sensation is augment by the smell of oil that permeates the air, constantly reminding visitors of the unique history of Oil Springs.
Sources: Village of Oil Springs Municipal Office: “Designation Data Sheet” and By-laws No. 353-2003 and 441-2006 (amendment).
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Oil Springs Railway Station include its:
- location within the First Commercial Oil Field in North America
- incorporation within a series of outdoor exhibits alongside other buildings of contemporary age
- board and batten walls, with handsome gable ends
- vertical board and batten gable end walls
- decorative points on ends of gables reaching down to the tops of windows
- knee braces flat on the wall, tops extending the width of the roof overhang
- two windows (original wave glass) on the rear of the structure
- four windows (original wave glass) on the front of structure, three of which compose a handsome bay window
- freight room flooring made of British Columbia Douglas Fir planks
- two imposing freight doors (5 1/2 feet wide, 6 1/2 feet tall) with original hardware
- telegrapher's desk
- agent's office
- wainscot walls with chair rail
- tongue and groove wall and ceiling stained dark brown
- original ticket window with fancy wood trim, attractive bull's eye corner pieces on frame
- original pot-bellied stove in center of waiting room