Enniskillen new home to rare 155 year-old map

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Special to The Independent

A rare 1866 map of Enniskillen Township is in the hands of Enniskillen Township – a gift from Charlie Fairbank of Oil Springs.

And it appears to be a one-of-a-kind since experts in the field and the municipality have never seen a map like this.

The map’s reference to “Enniskillen Township, C.W.” is another indicator that the map predates Confederation, when Ontario was known as Canada West.

For an unknown number of decades, the 155-year old map hung in the middle office of VanTuyl and Fairbank Hardware.

The store was established in 1865 by Fairbank’s great-grandfather John Henry Fairbank and closed in 2019. It is being emptied and Fairbank thought the township should have the document.

“It seems only right that this historic map should go to Enniskillen Township where it can be viewed and shared, rather than remain in my personal possession,” says Fairbank.
Duncan McTavish, the administrator clerk, had never seen the map detailing the northwest corner of the township.

Pouring over the map he noticed that the township had an office on the north side of Rokeby at what is now Oil Heritage Road – not the south where it stands now.

The 1866 map, McTavish noted with a chuckle, shows the township office was adjacent to a tavern.

The map shows and names nearby oil wells and the school that existed on Rokeby Line, just south of the present Centennial School.

Yellowed with age, the document is in good condition because it was framed.
Nicole Aszalos, curator of the County of Lambton archives, was delighted to hear of the 1866 map. The archive does have 1866 maps of different sections of Enniskillen, but not this particular section.

She hopes to scan it to a high resolution to be available to anyone visiting the archives.
The map shows the landscape of a particularly important time. 1866 is the year that Petrolia was founded as a village. It later became a town in 1874.

Enniskillen Township dates back to 1855, just three years before oil was struck in Oil Springs in 1858.