Skip to main content

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


Photo by Patricia McGee

Welcome to Fairbank Oil Fields

As winter progresses and the tourists await warmer months, it may seem that all is quiet at Fairbank Oil, but that’s not the case.

Helping to host the August conference and tour with The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) has kept us busy beyond the summer. The County of Lambton and TICCIH are preparing a final summary report and it includes details of touring Fairbank Oil and the Oil Museum of Canada. There has been lots of writing and editing to get the report just right.

A more detailed essay on tour of Fairbank Oil is also to be published this spring in the Petroleum History Institute’s journal, Oil-Industry History. It is North America’s only journal devoted solely to oil history, professional presentations and field trips through the continent’s oil regions.

The thick journal is published annually in Pennsylvania, and it has a broad reach. Essays by other conference presenters will be published in the journal as well. This will include an essay from the Polish delegation which has proposed that several countries, or perhaps just Oil Springs, should join them in pursuing a World Heritage serial designation of early oil sites. There will be much to discuss with the County of Lambton, the Polish, and TICCIH.

Like all businesses right now, we are finding new ways to navigate ever-changing conditions adjusting as best we can. After all, Fairbank Oil has been adapting for more than 160 years!

One change is that for the first time in about 70 years that we do not have sheep munching happily through the fields among the pumpjacks. Our sheep contracted a fatal virus and before the virus could spread further, we shipped out the others. The good news is that our donkey, Jack, continues to be in fine health and strolls around our barnyard. Like a Walmart greeter, he often can be heard braying a welcome to visitors.

During the winter, we’re turning our attention on all the projects that were set aside during the busy summer and fall. And we’re also making plans for things we’d like to achieve.

In 2023, Lambton County will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the International Drillers from Lambton who took their tools and expertise to 86 countries in the global quest for oil. And there’s another anniversary in 2023. It will mark 50 years since Charlie Fairbank began working here!

There will be more stories to come! Stay tuned!

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?

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…
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…
January 19, 2022

Winter at Fairbank Oil Fields

Click on the images below to view the full size images.

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.