Petrolia mourns loss of Sylvia Fairbank

Sylvia Fairbank, scene here in the top right, in character during one of the many Petrolia Community Theater productions she was part of over the years.

A woman whose name is synonymous with Petrolia and its arts community has died.

Sylvia Fairbank passed away in her home Thursday.

Fairbank was a descendant of J.H. Fairbank – a founding father of Petrolia and was once the largest oil producer in Canada.

Sylvia Fairbank followed in her relative’s footsteps and was constantly involved in community – particularly in the arts.

Fairbank was an active member of Petrolia Community Theater and graced the stage in many of their productions over the years. During the most recent performance of Anne of Green Gables, Fairbank helped behind the scenes.

Fairbank’s love of theater led her to volunteer at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia as an usher.

She was part of the committee which brought art into Victoria Park – an event which now draws thousands of people each summer. Fairbank also served on the Victoria Hall Art Advisory Committee.

Her work in the arts and culture was recognized by the Town of Petrolia in 2016 when she was named a Volunteer of the Year.

Fairbank was also involved at at her church – Christ Church in Petrolia. She was part of a committee which worked for years to bring a family from Syria to Petrolia. When they arrived, Fairbank took an active role in helping the family settle.

For visitation for Sylvia Fairbank will be held at the Needham Jay Funeral Home in Petrolia Friday 7pm to 9 pmĀ  and Saturday 2pm to 5pm. The funeral service will be held Sunday at the Anglican Church at 2 pm


  1. Hi Heather – Thanks for the lovely tribute of our dear friend, Sylvia. Given her propensity for doing things correctly, I might suggest changing the American spelling of the word ‘theater’ in your article to the Canadian spelling of ‘theatre’.

  2. Fondly remember Sylvia from 35-40 years ago when she worked as physio at Home Care (now CACC). Always pleasant and concerned about her patients. Always enjoyed seeing her at the Playhouse. Great lady lost.

  3. I am so sorry for the great loss to the family and the community! I only just met Sylvia last year and she was delightful, she will be sadly missed.

  4. It has been special over the past many years to reconnect in ways I never expected – getting back to Petrolia from places like Toronto. I was already hoping we would reconnect next spring. So sad. Miss you, Sylvia. We had some special times in Petrolia, though I left so quickly after death in our family. But I always remembered you – and was hoping to reconnect this year. Blessings & love to you & yours. God be with you. Lillian

  5. I remember Sylvia Fairbanks from years we spent walking from school together in Petrolia – joining from my walk up from the creek & hers in her family home. (My family name then was ‘Hale’.)
    As in other years, I was hoping to reconnect this summer – & I mourn her loss. May the joy she gave to so many be celebrated. Thanks to you, Sylvia.

    Lillian (Hale) Perigoe

  6. I knew Sylvia years ago – growing up in Petrolia, (Lancey St.) & passing by her home en route to school. We often walked to school together & I had hoped to meet with her this summer. With care & blessings to you all. (I now live near the lake, just over the Scarborough border – a beautiful part of ‘Toronto.) Blessings… Lillian (Hale) Perigoe

  7. Sylvia ‘s funeral was a true testament to her love of live and what a wonderful woman she was to all her knew her. She will be greatly missed

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