1866 maps and GPS the key to cementing Oil Springs oil history


Historians in Oil Springs are calling it a significant find.

During the Heritage Day celebrations at the Oil Museum of Canada Monday, Charlie Fairbank brought out hand-drawn maps of the community which are in the National Archives. The map shows each plot in the community in 1866 and the wells which dotted the land at the height of Oil Spring’s production. There are handwritten notes about the names of the wells and how deep they were.

“You won’t see anything of more historical importance in 100 years,” said Fairbank as he unrolled the photocopies of the maps he has been studying.

Fairbank says he is aware of many of the wells shown on the map – remnants of some of them, including the cribbing, can still be found in the ground.

And while Oil Springs has excellent records of its history, the map which was created around the same time as the oil boom in Petrolia began, meant this map would show Oil Springs at its most productive.

Fairbank hopes to interest the County of Lambton in the maps and use GPS and the 1866 documents to pinpoint exactly where the wells would have been.

He says that would provide significant proof as the community trys to convince UNESCO to make Oil Springs a World Heritage Site.

Connie Bell, the supervisor of the Oil Museum, was in awe of the maps as she helped Fairbank set up a display.

“With this, we will be able to pinpoint exact locations to solidify Oil Springs significance in the development of the oil industry,” she says. “It will help us identify them and the location which is imperative for a UNESCO designation.”

Oil Springs is already a National Heritage site but Fairbank says there will need to be a “concerted effort” to earn the UNESCO designation.