20 November

Oil well at Leduc

Oil Well Spudded In

If you would like to find an oil well (and who wouldn't!), a vast part of Canada is still waiting to be explored. Here's a tip to help you look for it. Petroleum is found in sedimentary rocks, underground, and Canada has about one million square miles of sedimentary basins, about one-quarter of the land area. Four-fifths of this is in western Canada, and includes the southwest corner of Manitoba, two-thirds of Saskatchewan, nearly all of Alberta, and a wide strip down the Mackenzie River to the Arctic. There is oil in British Columbia, Ontario (see February 28), and the Maritimes.

It might be said that Alberta's oil boom began on November 20, 1946, when the famous Leduc well was spudded in. It began producing on February 13, the following year. As early as June, 1892, however, the Edmonton Bulletin had reported indications of oil at St. Albert. The story said: "Whether or not the tar is a sure indication of a profitable petroleum field, there is no doubt of the genuineness of the find, and as little doubt that it is not confined to that single locality."

Alberta's first producing oil field was the Turner Valley, and one of its pioneers was W. S. Herron. He noticed gas seepage near Sheep Creek and bought 700 acres of land in the area. His attempts to raise development money from Calgary businessmen were unsuccessful until he devised a spectacular sales plan. He persuaded William Elder and A. W. Dingman to visit a place where there was gas seepage, touched a match to a rock fissure, and then pulled out a pan in which he fried eggs over the flame! Elder and Dingman were so impressed that they bought more than a half-interest in Herron's holdings and spudded in a well at Sheep Creek in January, 1913. Until this time, the Calgary Stock Exchange had occupied a corner in a local butcher shop. Now so many people wanted to buy shares that the cash drawers were not large enough, and the money had to be kept in wastepaper baskets! The boom lasted only a few months, owing to the outbreak of World War 1, but fortunes were made and lost on the Calgary Stock Exchange.


20 November

-1834    The Constitutional Society of Montreal drew up a list of ninety-two grievances which was sent to King William IV.

-1877    Edmonton, Alberta, obtained its first telegraph service.

-1880    The Federal Government and the C.P.R. signed the final agreement.

-1893    The American Supreme Court held that the Great Lakes and connecting waters constituted "high seas." This led to a treaty in 1909, guaranteeing that the lakes would be open to citizens of Canada and the States on an equal basis.

-1962    The United Nations approved the Canadian plan to measure worldwide atomic radiation.