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It was a nasty shock to recently learn that the technology of our old website was nearly obsolete. The internet technology had galloped ahead quickly in less than a decade.

This may seem perfectly normal to most. At Fairbank Oil Fields though, we have a different sense of time in our little corner of Canada. This is a preserved pocket of what could be called Slow Oil. Founded in 1861, we operate a complete system of fully functioning technology dates from the 1800s. With our admiration of old technologies, it is not surprising that we did not even have a website until we were 150 years old. That was in 2011.

And so we began anew.

This fresh new website springs from the fertile minds at CR Creative, in the nearby town of Wyoming. We handed over all our stories and a vast array of photographs. We casually mentioned that Fairbank Oil Fields interests not just one type of person, but many.

We wanted the website to reach out to historians, locals, photographers, heritage people, industrial archaeologists, tourists, kids, adults, birdwatchers, nature lovers, artists, writers, geologists, politicians, machinists and anyone in the oil industry. And oh yes, people beyond Canada’s borders too. We think this new user-friendly website makes great strides in accomplishing all of that!

Many gifted photographers contributed to this website and this is much appreciated. We are all visual creatures and their photos are key to understanding all that is here. Words can only go so far. Can someone really visualize a dinosaur with words alone?

The Petrolia Camera Club contributed hundreds of photos and sorting through them was like trying to find the best strawberries in a entire field of luscious strawberries. We invited the club members and set them loose on our 600 acres. Special thanks to club members Al Hayward, Tony White, and Carol Graham and you’ll see their crisp shots throughout the website.

Naturalist Larry Cornelis, who has spent months here surveying the wildlife and plants, has some amazing photos. Willy Waterton took a series of black and white photos years ago and they are timeless. And of course, we take a lot of shots ourselves because we live right here, a short walk from the barn, in our renovated 1888 farmhouse.

On the Find Out More page, it’s well worth checking out artist Jane Austin’s two short videos of the oilfield in action. She captures what a still photograph cannot – the rhythmic sounds of the oilfield, the “song” of the jerker line. The air is full of bird song too. In our fast-paced world, it is the slowness of the sounds and the technology that stand in sharp contrast. These sounds are unchanged from the 1860s.

And while the sounds and visuals convey much, the words are important too, so that people can understand what exactly they are hearing and seeing. If it takes a melody and lyrics to make a song, it takes visuals, sound and words to tell the many stories of Fairbank Oil Fields.


– Patricia McGee