When Tim Maitland was just 12 he was bit by the history bug.
In the summer of 1972, Maitland and some of his friends were “just rummaging around” in what was a dumpsite off Tank Street.
They found a few old bottles from Petrolia druggists from the early days of the oil town. As they looked, there were all kinds of things just sitting on the top of the former dump. “There was some natural drainage there and we figured they just backed up their wagons and dumped it,” he says.
For the next 10 summers, Maitland and his friends would head down to the old dump and see what they could find. “I started to bring home pails full of bottles,” says Tim noting his dad, Jim, then became interested too and joined the band of amateur archeologists.
And what they found over the years was amazing. Old cups from the famed Iroquouis Hotel, a cup and mug from R Callinan Whole Sale Liquor, clay marbles and dozens of clear glass druggist bottles with the names of the chemist on them.
The finds of his youth stirred something in him. “I really got interest in the town,” he says while he stands at a table in Petrolia’s Farmers’ Market Saturday. “I started collecting anything related to Petrolia.
Maitland and his dad displayed some of the collection as the Petrolia150 Committee tried to entice others to come forward with their interesting bits of history. There were posters and pictures of firefighters and items which show the history of commerce.
While the Maitlands were pleased to show their wares, they also learned something about what they have. A woman tells Maitland that an old toothbrush with WH Dale, Petrolia stamped on it is likely ivory, a luxury which could be paid for because of the riches of oil.