Oil Museum in Oil Springs won’t open until October

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Shortages of building supplies in the pandemic mean the Oil Museum of Canada in Oil Springs won’t open until at least October.

That’s according to Erin Dee-Richards, the museum’s curator/supervisor.

Construction on the $880,000 job to completely renovate the museum featuring the stories of the people who started the commercial oil industry in North American at Oil Springs was started in February. The plan was ambitious. Bring the building, which had gone through a number of renovations, back to its original glory including opening up long covered over windows which provide a sweeping view of the historic oil fields.

At the same time, all of the infrastructure of the building was renewed and Dee-Richards and her staff set to work improving the exhibits focusing on the core values the original founders of the museum wanted to focus on including the discovery of oil, Lambton’s foreign drillers and how Indigenous people used the oil in the area first.

But construction, which can be slow to begin with, plodded along through the pandemic. Workers started at the height of the third wave of COVID-19 and that slowed things down as they tried to stay socially distant.

As the restrictions eased, Lambton County officials were hopeful the project – which was scheduled to be complete in late June or early July – would be ready to open in August, when the rest of the county facilities opened.

But that was not to be. As of Aug. 31, the construction wasn’t complete and wasn’t expected to be done until September.

Dee-Richards says part of the problem is the contractor is having a hard time getting what he needs. “Now that we’re coming to the end, it’s a little bit more supply chain issues, things that normally the construction crew would be able to acquire quite easily, (they) can’t. They’re having to wait for pieces.

“We are hoping, again, fingers crossed to be opening in October. At some time, we don’t have a date just yet. We’ll have a better idea of when we’d be able to open once the construction is wrapped up completely.”

While it was frustrating not to open in August with the rest of the county’s cultural facilities, Dee-Richards says it is exciting to see things taking shape.

“They’re putting some paint on the walls, and we’re putting in a doorway… it’s exciting to see those things going in. And it seems more real.”