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
First Oil Wells in Canada
Les Premiers puits de pétrole au Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
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.
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.
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.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Technology and Engineering
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
Function - Category and Type
- Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate, Documentation Centre, 3rd Floor, Room 366, 30 Victoria St, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection