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Ontario heritage oilfield site was first in world

The Heritage Canada Foundation gave its 2013 Lieutenant Governor Award to the person responsible for protecting the world's first commercial oil field, which is in Ontario.


The Heritage Canada Foundation gave its 2013 Lieutenant Governor Award to the person responsible for protecting the world’s first commercial oil field, which is in Ontario.

Charles Fairbank III “has worked tirelessly” to protect the First Commercial Oil Field National Historic Site, which is in Oil Springs, Eniskillen, southwest Ontario.

The Fairbank Oil Properties plant still operates using the original “Jerker-Line” pumping technology developed by Mr. Fairbank’s great-grandfather, John Henry Fairbank, in 1863. The drilling and pumping technology quickly spread to the United States and later to oil fields around the world, giving birth to the global petroleum industry.

Fairbank Oil is the world’s oldest oil company and today produces approximately 24,000 barrels of oil per year from 350 wells on 600 acres. The Oil Springs plant is Ontario’s only working industrial-based heritage conservation district.

Charles Fairbank also runs Canada’s oldest petroleum hardware shop, Van Tuyl & Fairbank Hardware in Petrolia, which continues to provide obscure oil production equipment. He is also a founder of Petrolia Discovery, a working museum of petroleum history, and is a financial supporter of the Oil Museum of Canada.