Education & Tours









General pioneer programs for schools are available upon request. Discovery offers a specific Grade 3 and 4 Wheels Gears and Pulleys program based on the Ontario Common Curriculum.Secondary and post secondary facilities visit the site to supplement their geology and technology programs. 

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Enjoy a leisurely walk in our Historic Oil Field, listen to the stories told by trained interpretive guides and experience the excitement of the Black Gold fever. Customized tours are available for special occasions such as reunions, corporate picnics and business showcases. 

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Special and unique photo opportunities for engagement and wedding pictures can be found in our historic oil field and pioneer village. Petrolia Discovery offers a distinctive venue for outdoor garden weddings. 

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Petrolia Discovery Locations & Tour Overview

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  1. Visitor Parking
  2. Imperial Oil Display
  3. Boom Town Display
  4. Technology Display
  5. Film Theatre
  6. Shelter
  7. Gum Bed
  8. Cribbed Well
  • Spring Pole
  • Canadian Rig
  • Drilling and Fishing Tools
  • Early Oil Well
  • Holding and Separating Tanks
  • Field Wheel
  • Fitzgerald Rig
  • Blacksmith Shop
  • Pumphouse
  • Johnson’s Hardware
  • Watson’s Mill
  • Disposal Well
  • The Corey Building
  • SS # 14, 1 Room School
  • Marthaville United Church
  • Toll House

  • Imperial Oil Display

    Petrolia was the home to Imperial Oil Ltd. From 1880 to 1898. Photographs were assembled in 1991 to show those boom years.

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    Technology Display

    Some might say that it was the unique oil drilling technology developed by Hard Oilers which is really responsible for making Petrolia famous – technology such as the drilling rigs, the three-pole derricks, the enormous Fitzgerald Rig and the wooden jerker lines, all ancestors of today’s modern drilling tools.

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    Foreign Driller Display

    The Petrolia men who developed the skills to drill for oil were world leaders. They took their expertise to 32 foreign lands where they produced the first oil fields there.

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    Gum Bed

    Oil seeping to the surface of the ground created these asphalt ponds or “gum beds”. These beds brought the first explorers to Oil Springs. The most famous is Charles Tripp who started the world’s first oil company in 1851, The International Mining and Manufacturing Company. It was empowered to seek for oil and salt springs and to manufacture oils, naphtha paints, burning fluids, varnishes and other products. Tripp’s asphalt was so unique it gained international attention and in 1865 it received honorable mention at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

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    Cribbed Well

    The first producers did not drill wells, they dug them. See a early cribbed well and learn of all the challenges.

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    Spring Pole Drill

    This ancient method of drilling was probably first used by the Chinese and was well suited to obtaining oil from the thick forsets of Lambton County. Try for yourself the task of drilling for oil by spring pole.

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    Canadian Rig

    Petrolia men introduced the rest of the world to the Canadian Rig.

    Examine the construction of an early.

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    Drill and Fishing Tool Display

    Most of these tools were made at the Oil Well Supply Co. Ltd. in Petrolia.

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    Early Oil Well

    Wells are pumped by a wooden jerker line with power from the Fitzgerald Rig. Listen to the rhythm of the jerker rod system at work.

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    Holding and Separating Tanks

    From deep in the well a mixture of oil and water is pumped into these separating tanks. Learn how gravity runs this early separation process.

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    Field Wheel

    The Field Wheel is a major development in the jerker line system. The jerker line causes the field wheel to move back and forth and it allows the well to be pumped in any direction.

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    The Fitzgerald Rig

    Built in 1903, this is still the largest pumping rig in the world. It has been operating almost continuously for nearly a century. Stand in the wheel house and marvel at the ingenuity of pioneer engineering.

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    Blacksmith Warehouse

    Most of the jerker line hardware used by Petrolia Discovery is manufactured here. The forge used was donated to us by the local chapter of the I.O.D.E. This 19th century building of board and batten construction was once a private residence on Petrolia’s Tank Street. It was moved to this site and fully restored with funds from the Lambton County Council.

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    Imperial Oil Pumphouse

    This pumphouse was originally a booster station on the Imperial Oil pipeline from Petrolia to Sarnia. It was located in Bunyan, a small town which is now deserted. Recently restored, this building is now open to the visiting public.

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    Watson’s Mill

    In 1870, this building was used as the warehouse in Petrolia for the Canadian Central Railway. It was donated to Petrolia Discovery by Charles Fairbank Jr. and moved to the site in the fall of 1992.

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    Displosal Well

    The wells in this field produce approximately 99 barrels of water (brine) for each barrel of oil. The brine flows through a pipeline into a disposal well. From here the water is fed into a porous formation beneath the oil field. This is probably the most effective and safest disposal system operating today.

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    The Corey Building

    This building, built in the 1920’s and originally located on Tank Street in the town of Petrolia, was bought by Harrison Corey in 1942, and Corey Oil Company was established. Three years later the name was changed to Corey Oil Co. Ltd. It served as a distribution centre for petroleum products. In 1970 the assets were sold to Texaco Oil Co. Ltd. Charles H. Corey took over the operation as a commissioned agent until 1990 when Imperial Oil Ltd. bought out all Texaco’s operations. Esso managed the business until 1992, at which time a decision to abandon the property was made. The building was donated to Discovery, and relocated onto the site in 1994.Wander the office and see early ledgers recording oil shipments and wages.

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    SS #14, 1 Room School

    This building was built in the late 1870’s and originally located on lot 12E, Con. 9, Enniskillen Township. It was moved in the early 1900’s to lot 16, Con. 9. In the late 1950’s the trustees were faced with a dilemma familiar to all rural schools – falling enrollment. Hard economic facts had to be faced. Central schools were built and students were bused to these new halls of education. By 1968 all one-room schools in the township were closed and an era had come to an end. In 1994, the Township of Enniskillen, who had purchased the building for storage purposes, donated the structure to The Petrolia Discovery, and in the fall of 1995 it was moved onto its present location.

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