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First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site

Akamina Parkway, Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1965/05/17

General view of the First Oil Well in Western Canada, 1993.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1993.
General view
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Other Name(s)

First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site
First Oil Well in Western Canada
Premier Puits de Pétrole de l'Ouest-Canadien

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1901/01/01 to 1902/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site of Canada is located between Cameron Creek and Mile 5 of the Akamina Highway east of the townsite of Waterton, Alberta. It consists of a well-head opening and drill stem capped by a monument in the triangular shape of an oil derrick. Archaeological remains of the buildings and machinery associated with the operations of this site are included in the designation.

Heritage Value

First Oil Well in Western Canada was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1965 because:
- it was the first oil well in western Canada.

The heritage value of the first oil well in western Canada lies in its association with the western Canadian oil industry as illustrated by the remains of this early well. Western Canada's first oil well was discovered by John Lineham of the Rocky Mountain Development Co. in 1902. It had been drilling on the same site since 1901, and the oil was encountered at 1024 ft. While this was a small well that ran dry in 1904, its location signaled the presence of much larger fields that were later developed. Most of the visible remnants of the drilling operation were removed when the monument was erected over the well in 1968.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1965; Commemorative Integrity Statement, September 2000

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- the location of the well in relative proximity to other oil fields in western Canada,
- the well-head opening with its drill stem,
- the drill shaft,
- archaeological remains associated with well operations in the 15 ft. radius surrounding the well-head opening,
- viewscapes to the rugged natural terrain and to sites containing evidence of historic mining activity (refuse, nearby oil pool, grave and telegraph poles).




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1902/01/01 to 1904/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type



Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site

Architect / Designer

John Lineham



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




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