Before oil was developed in Pennsylvania, Texas, the Middle East or Alberta, the Canadian boom town of Oil Springs, Ontario burst into existence.
In 1858, James Miller Williams carved his name in history when he dug a well, produced oil, crudely refined it, barreled it and marketed it as “illuminating oil” for lamps. Prior to 1858, he was distilling the bitumen of Oil Springs for lamp oil. A surveyor named John Henry Fairbank stumbled onto the fevered scene and in 1861 dug his first well.
That was 158 years ago and the family has been continuously pumping oil here through four generations. Fairbank Oil Fields is much more than just the site of Canada’s first gusher of the Shaw Well in 1862.
Today, it still operates a complete system of pumping oil using the authentic technology of the 1860s. This is unique in the world, and we believe Oil Springs meets all the criteria to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History happened here. Ingenious technologies developed here and the International Drillers (Foreign Drillers) took their expertise, tools and technology to 86 countries around the globe to open new oil fields. The significance of Oil Spring, Canada spread far and wide.
Though most drilling was done here more than 100 years ago, Fairbank Oil Fields produces about 24,000 barrels of oil annually has been supplying Imperial Oil with crude for nearly 140 years.