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Together, Fairbank Oil Fields and The Oil Museum of Canada apply to be included on Canada’s Tentative List of recommended sites seeking UNESCO World Heritage. It was not successful and Oil Springs intends to apply again.


Lambton County’s Oil Heritage Conservation Study (110 pages) is approved in August. In October, the subsequent Oil Heritage Conservation Plan is approved. This is the first industrial heritage in Ontario to be designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act.


The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage Canada adds Oil Springs and Petrolia to its list of about 27 Canadian Industrial Heritage Sites.


The Petroleum History Institute of Oil City, Pennsylvania and the Petroleum History Society of Calgary, Alberta converge on Oil Springs and Petrolia for a two-day symposium, with many papers presented and published in Oil-Industry History, Volume 9 Number 1, 2008.


The Canadian chapter of the prestigious ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Conference is held in Oil Springs about Oil Springs’ oil heritage and how to best promote it.


Dr. Emory Kemp writes 19th Century Petroleum Technology in North America.


Arnold Roos, of Parks Canada’s Historic Sites and Monuments Board, visits Oil Springs and makes an extensive report leading to clarification of National Historic Site designation boundaries in Oil Springs. The NHS designation is revised to include all of the original oil field, not just the two famous wells. Fairbank Oil is on the original oil field.


Ontario Petroleum Institute publishes Oil Heritage Tour of Lambton County, The Birthplace of the Canadian Oil Industry. Written by Robert O. Cochrane of Cairnlin Resources and Charlie Fairbank its 85-pages are crammed with detailed geological and technical reports. They write it for the 2000 Eastern Section of American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 29th annual meeting hosted by the OPI. It is later published for the public.

1999 – 2001

Dr. Emory Kemp, then Director of the West Virginia University’s Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology, conducts a six-week field school at Fairbank Oil, documenting the technology. He returns for another field school in 2001 with representatives from the Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Parks Canada and others. Dr. Kemp was among the first to say that Fairbank Oil would meet the criteria for a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1965 – 2004

Edward Phelps, a Western student, writes his master thesis on John Henry Fairbank in 1965, the most comprehensive report written to date. This was after he spent nearly a year going through the diaries, letters, documents, receipts and papers that were stored in the Fairbank mansion. Phelps later becomes the librarian of Western’s Regional Collection of D. B. Weldon Library and publishes three books on Petrolia (the first two were with journalist Charlie Whipp): Petrolia 1866 – 1966; Petrolia 1874 to 1974; and Petrolia Ontario-Canada 150 Years 1854-2004. Additionally, he wrote more than 30 other books on Ontario history.

1950s onwards

Dr. James John Talman, chief librarian at Western University, gathers extensive oil history research of the area. In the early 1960s, he recommends history student Edward Phelps for the job of sorting through the massive amount of Fairbank papers at the Fairbank mansion.

1930s to 1960s

Col. Robert Bruce Harkness, Natural Gas Commissioner for the Department of Mines in Ontario for three decades, researches Oil Springs extensively and became a leading expert. He points to the evidence that Canada gave birth to the modern oil industry in 1858, one year before Col. Edwin Drake’s drilled well in Titusville, Pennsylvania.


Oil Springs receives National Historic Site designation for the 1858 Discovery Well of Charles Tripp and also the Shaw Gusher of 1862.


Sandford Fleming, the engineer and inventor who later became famous for creating Standard Time, surveys the Flowing Wells of Oil Springs. He reports on the Shaw Well and the 100 refineries in Oil Springs. His findings are read to the Canadian Institute on Feb. 29, 1863.


Murray files his report with the Geological Survey, saying he found the bitumen deposit on the east gum bed but he misses the larger deposits. He also says someone had been there before him digging for samples. Like Sterry Hunt, Murray thinks the bitumen could make a gas for lamps.


Sir William Logan sends Alexander Murray to study the gum beds of Oil Springs.


Sterry Hunt, a chemist with the Geological Survey, studies Enniskillen Township samples of bitumen/asphaltum and writes in his report to William Logan that it could be used to manufacture gas for lighting. (Sir William Logan established the Geological Survey of Canada in 1842.)