You likely wouldn’t consider going for a leisurely walk through an oil field but this is no ordinary oil field.
Fairbank Oil Fields have opened the trail on the property on Gypsy Flats Road Saturday. The two-kilometer trail winds its way through a wooded area, which was one of the most productive of the oil boom in the 1860s. It’s still a working oil field, but the company is using the land to share the history of the area and celebrate the adventures of foreign drillers.
The trail has the names of 15 prominent oilmen and a pamphlet explains their contributions to the industry. In the middle of the trail is the artwork of Geri Binks – giant signposts showing where the oilmen traveled to open foreign oil fields.
Charlie Fairbank says people have walked the land for thousands of years using the oil, which came from the ground for its healing properties. Then, “it changed to industrial land,” says Fairbank.
When the oil industry declined in Oil Springs, Fairbanks says “the natural world reclaimed the land.”
“Now it is filled with amazing plants, animals and birds while the industrial past reveals itself along the road” including old pieces of oil equipment.
“This was Charlie’s vision,” says McGee of the historic and artistic nature trail. “He noticed there were trails made by the deer.”
They began researching the piece of property that had once belonged to A.W. Parks. “We found out a lot of things we didn’t know before,” says McGee. After talking to members of the Hull family who had lived in the stately home they found “There was a wall of books, indoor plumbing and both cold and hot water.”
About 200 people walked the trail Saturday to kick off the Canada Day weekend. “This is a very Canadian story; Canadian history was made here,” says McGee. “It’s a nice kick off to the Canada Day weekend.”