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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Photo by Patricia McGee

Welcome to Fairbank Oil Fields

Is this summer a return to the normal days we knew before the pandemic? We certainly hope so.

Welcome back to the land of Canada’s first oil gushers! Yes, James Miller Williams had 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.

Good news! This year, the popular Sunday horse-drawn wagon rides are starting up again in July. With covid the wagon rides were suspended for two summers. Happily, once again, the rides are available with admission to the Oil Museum of Canada, adjacent to Fairbank Oil Fields. All the details are below in Touring Fairbank Oil Fields.

More good news. The Oil Museum of Canada 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.

Our Driving Tour is free to anyone, any time. Scroll down to see Touring Fairbank Oil for all the details.

In getting ready for the season ahead, we’ve been sprucing up. In late spring, our barn and outbuildings got a nice fresh coat of paint and we’re adding signs to help visitors. One thing we haven’t been able to do is re-open our Nature Trail. The bridge over Black Creek needs new foundations and its unsafe. When the job is complete, we will bring back the Nature section of our website.

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!

It’s a great time to visit so grab some family, grab some friends and come on out to Oil Springs.

We have stories!

Use the tabs above to find more stories on our history, technology, 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

We have two ways to tour, the driving tour and the horse-drawn wagon tour on summer Sundays.

The Horse-Drawn Wagon Tour

This one-of-a-kind tour is a whole new way to experience the sights and sounds of our historic oil field and its authentic technology of the 1860s. Claire Jardine guides his two trusty Belgian horses on a 45-minute ride through the meadows and woods of Fairbank Oil Fields.

A museum guide will explain the 19th century technology here that runs 24-hours a day, every day of the year. You get to check inside one of our six powerhouses, follow the jerker line though woods and fields, and see the site of Canada’s first oil gusher of 1862. Oil Springs has an amazing history and this is a fun way for friends and family to learn more about it.

The Driving Tour

From the comfort of your vehicle, 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.

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

Claire Jardine brings his team of horses for the wagon rides.  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.