Cast iron field wheels are hubs for the jerker line

Photo by Al Hayward

 
 

A post for the jerker line is home to a spider

Photo by Al Hayward

 
 

Pumpjacks at the wells connect to the jerker line

Photo by Patricia McGee

 
 

Ostrich ferns flourish in our woods

Photo by Larry Cornelis

 
 

Charlie Fairbank ties a packer for an oil well

Photo by Al Hayward

 
 

The grey tree frog is one of many species at Fairbank Oil Fields

Photo by Larry Cornelis

 
 

A cast iron shiv wheel connects the jerker to the pump jack.

Photo by Al Hayward

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Our donkey Jack often likes to stroll in front of our barn.
Photo by Patricia McGee

Welcome to Fairbank Oil Fields

Summer is such a great time for day trips with family and friends. Oil Springs is a fine destination for outings because it offers something out of the ordinary.

Welcome to the land of Canada’s first oil gushers and also where the modern oil industry began in North America. Make the Oil Museum of Canada your first stop, then hop in your vehicle to take the Driving Tour through the original oil fields.

What makes Fairbank Oil Fields unique is that the majority of our 320 oil wells run on the authentic technology of the 1860s. “Stunningly archaic,” is what one visitor called it.

Brewing beer and printing are two old business that continue today but they certainly are not using technology of the 1860s! Check out our technology tab at the top of your screen to find out how it all works. Fairbank Oil is not a theme park, it is not a hobby, it’s an a fourth-generation family business producing 24,000 barrels of oil each year.

James Miller Williams refined crude to making illuminating oil for lamps here in 1858, but it was the Oil Spring’s phenomenal gushers in 1862 that really ignited the oil frenzy.

The site of that historic Williams Well is the site of the Oil Museum of Canada. It reopened this year after a 13-month closure for extensive renovations. It’s the most significant renovation in 30 years. It has a whole new modern look and several new interactive displays. Together, Fairbank Oil and the Oil Museum of Canada are one National Historic Site, first designated almost 100 years ago.

Unfortunately, the horse-drawn wagon rides were not possible this year but our Driving Tour is free to anyone, any time. Scroll down to see Touring Fairbank Oil for all the details. Drive up to our barn and take pics of our barn mural. You might meet our donkey, Jack.

In late August, heritage experts from across the Atlantic and North America will be touring Oil Springs to experience its authentic oil technology from the 1800s. It’s the first time Oil Springs has received this kind of international attention. The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage, (TICCIH), and Lambton County have been organizing the conference and tour of the museum and Fairbank Oil. We’re happy this is going ahead…finally! Covid meant we had to postpone for two and half years!

We have stories!

Use the tabs above to find more stories on our history, technology, Driving Tour, all blogs, and more! Scroll down to learn about Touring Fairbank Oil Fields

What’s New?

News
May 13, 2022

Every Picture Tells a Story

They say that every picture tells a story and this photo tells of many stories. It was taken at the entrance to Fairbank Oil possibly in 1905 or earlier. The…
News
January 19, 2022

Winter at Fairbank Oil Fields

Click on the images below to view the full size images.
Shaw Well at Fairbank OilNews
January 19, 2022

Canada’s First Gusher Struck in Oil Springs 160 Years Ago

Canada’s first oil gusher exploded with a roar in Oil Springs, Ontario 160 years ago in January. It was January 16, 1862 when John Shaw chiselled 52 metres into the…

Touring Fairbank Oil Fields

The Driving Tour

Take a leisurely drive from the Oil Museum of Canada and you can see the oil fields in action and our life-sized metal sculptures of oilmen working. The sculptures have been made by Murray Watson and they are arranged like actors in a play showing how the work was done in earlier days.

If you’d like to hear the driving tour’s audio narrative, begin by touring the Oil Museum of Canada and you can get a map with the radio frequencies for each stop.

This a tour best seen at a slow pace. The jerker line moves at 11-times per minute, the same pace as relaxed breathing. Take a few moments to watch it. Some find it almost hypnotic and soothing.

To simply tour without the audio, click here for a full description of each stop.

Click here to view stops and info on the driving tour

An authentic horse-drawn oil wagon is driven by Bucky Mitchell to the Receiving Station where local oil was collected before sending it to Imperial Oil’s refinery.

– Photo by Patricia McGee

Fairbank Oil Fields by Numbers

What else is here?

Lots! In all of Lambton County, only Walpole Island has greater biodiversity than Fairbank Oil Fields.

As the county is farmed more intensively and urban development grows, the forests, wetlands and meadows have largely disappeared. This makes Fairbank Oil Fields very important to preserving these habitats.

There are two key reasons the biodiversity is so huge here. One is that Black Creek meanders through the northern and western sections of our land. The second reason is that our various landscapes are large enough to be brimming with life.

Within our 600 acres of woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, we have sheep, geese, deer, wild turkeys, owls, beavers, possums, turtles, frogs, butterflies, more than 80 species of birds, plus we have 500,000 Munro Honey bees and a donkey named Jack.

And in total, we have 315 species of plants. A number of the trees and plants here are rare for Ontario or rare for Lambton County.