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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


The Audio Driving Tour includes a stop at the Fairbank Oil barn mural, first painted in 1981 when Fairbank Oil celebrated its 120th year anniversary. This year marks 163 years since John Henry Fairbank produced his first oil well in Oil Springs.

Touring Oil Springs Gets Even Better

Summer is the ideal time for touring around. Pack up the car with all those visiting friends and relatives and head out for an adventure.

This summer touring of Oil Springs where the North American oil industry began just got better. The Audio Driving Tour got a boost from technology this year. Now, if someone in your vehicle has a cell phone, you can pick up the app at the Oil Museum of Canada and get the audio narrative right to your car and take the tour at your own pace. More than just a narrative of the historic oil fields, the app also delivers video clips, historic photos and sidebars of info for the curious.

The app is available with admission to the oil museum and staff are on hand to show how to install it and use it. The new tech is possible through a Creative County Grant and the Oil Museum of Canada Foundation. Fairbank Oil, the Village of Oil Springs, the foundation and the oil museum worked together to make it a reality.

And that’s not all. The group is also gradually updating the 10 interpretive signs scattered throughout the village and on the Old Mill Trail. The signs tell the stories of the buildings rooted in history and other interesting spots. Yes, Oil Springs had a flour mill and it ran on crude oil! Other fun facts: The Plank Road to Sarnia, still used today, was built way back in 1862 to overcome the impossible clay road. VanTuyl and Fairbank Hardware of Petrolia ran a highly successful satellite store in Oil Springs for more than 40 years. There is so much to find out.

To celebrate the County of Lambton’s 175th anniversary, Doors Open will be held Saturday, September 28 so stay tuned for the happenings at The Oil Museum of Canada. In another special county celebration held in June, 27 Heritage Champions from throughout the county were honoured. Among them were Charlie Fairbank and Pat McGee of Fairbank Oil. Nice!

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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?

The Early Refining of Black Gold in Lambton CountyNewsThe Early Refining Of Black Gold In Lambton County
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The Early Refining Of Black Gold In Lambton County

Twenty-seven Refineries Operating in Oil Springs??!! Strange but true! This guest blog has been written by Colleen Inglis, a former archivist with Fairbank Oil. The information has been condensed from…
NewsThe Jerker Line Hits 160th Anniversary
July 19, 2023

The Jerker Line Hits 160th Anniversary

Still in use around the clock at Fairbank Oil, the jerker line delivers power to the wells. Here we use wood for the jerker line but other Oil Springs producers…
NewsInternational Heritage Group Tours Oil Springs and Studies Lambton Oil History
December 2, 2022

International Heritage Group Tours Oil Springs and Studies Lambton Oil History

Charlie Fairbank, in blue plaid shirt, explains a display of 19th century tools and components that are used within the historic wells at Fairbank Oil. Photo by Andrew Meyer, County…

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.