Boom in oil books make good Christmas gifts


The oil boom that rocketed Petrolia and Oil Springs to fame is now producing a boom of books. There has never been a Christmas with so much choice in oil heritage books.

In the past five years, seven non-fiction books have been published as well as two novels that weave the oil history in their tales. These are in addition to six non-fiction books written since 2000.

Some books published before 2000 have gone out of print for various reasons but many have been reprinted because of their continued popularity.

“These books make great Christmas presents,” says Liz Welsh, the Petrolia councillor on the Petrolia Heritage committee and a branch assistant at the library. “They’re all extremely readable and we recommend them all the time at the library, especially to newcomers.”

She finds many local residents are keen to learn more about the oil history and tourists are too. “Often summer tourists wander into the library and they’re quite fascinated when we point out our local history section,” says Welsh.

The largest collection of oil heritage books and multimedia material is at the Oil Museum of Canada in Oil Springs. In Petrolia, select books are carried by Specialty Rubber Stamps as well as VanTuyl and Fairbank Hardware. The Bookkeeper in Sarnia also stocks some titles.

Here’s a list of the newer publications and the best selling ones


* The Western Light,

by Susan Swan (2012)

* Grease Town,

by Ann Towell (2010)


* A Hard Oiler Love Story, The Lives of Amos and Amy Barnes,

by Gary May (2013)

* Groundbreaker, How the brilliant inventions of Leo Ranney transformed water and energy technology,

by Gary May (2013)

* The Scent of Oil, a Nicklos/Perkins Family Saga,

by Gary May (2011)

* Wonders of Light, The Stained Glass Art of Christopher Wallis,

by Patricia McGee, photos by Carol Graham & Hugh Clouse (2010)

* Ontario’s Petroleum Legacy, The birth, evolution and challenges of a global industry,

by Earl Gray (2009)

* 19th Century Petroleum Technology in North America,

by Emory Kemp & Michael W. Caplinger (2007)

* The Story of Fairbank Oil,

By Patricia McGee (2004)

* Petrolia 150 Years, 1854-2004,

by Edward Phelps, Charlie Whipp and Lee Pethick (2004)

* Oil Heritage Tour of Lambton County, Birthplace of the Canadian Oil Industry,

by Robert Cochrane and Charles Fairbank (2000)

* Hard Oiler, the Story of Early Canadians’ Quest for Oil at Home and Abroad,

by Gary May (1998)

* A History of the Chemical Industry in Lambton County,

– By R.W. Ford (published in 1964. Fourth edition in 2000)