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Our Barn Mural Turns 40!!

It’s a bit of a shock to us but our much-photographed barn mural is now 40 years old!

It was the summer of 1981 when Charlie Fairbank decided that something special could be done to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Fairbank Oil, founded by his great grandfather John Henry Fairbank in 1861.

He had two inspirations. One was an old image of an oilman on a horse-drawn wagon carrying oil barrels which appeared 1920s stationary of VanTuyl and Fairbank Hardware store.

His second inspiration was the fun tale of a gang of friends getting together to paint a mural in Joyce Carey’s novel A Horse’s Mouth.

Charlie decided that’s exactly what he should do – organize a party of friends for a boisterous afternoon of painting a mural on the barn. Petrolia artist Anne-Marsh Evans simplified the image, graphed it, and then chalked the image on to the barn.

Up went the scaffolding, string was stretched to mark one-foot squares, and happy party-goers each painted squares like an old-fashioned “Paint By Numbers”. News of the party and the mural spread far and wide.

Facing north and on high ground, it can be seen from quite a distance and welcomes all through our front entrance on Duryee Street in Oil Springs.

This year, we expanded the parking lot by the barn so people have plenty of room to park if they want to take photos, or meet our donkey, Jack. The pandemic prevented us from having an event to celebrate the mural’s 40th anniversary but visitors are welcome to come up our lane to see it.

Charlie Fairbank shows the artist’s graph that was then enlarged and sketched in chalk on the barn. Scaffolding went up, strings marked the graph squares and the party goers each painted a square in the summer of 1981, for Fairbank Oil’s 120th anniversary.