North America’s first commercial oil well was located in Oil Springs, Lambton County

Photo: Tourism Sarnia Lambton and the Lambton Heritage Museum

Photo: Tourism Sarnia Lambton and the Lambton Heritage Museum

Oil Springs, Lambton County – In 1858 Oil Springs (originally known as Black Creek) became the site of the North America’s first commercial oil well. A Hamilton asphalt producer, James Miller Williams, purchased land in this area because its gum beds. The thick and gooey substance could be used in the making of asphalt, as a product to waterproof ship hulls, and to produce kerosene for lighting oil. He was digging a water well on his property when at 14 ft below the surface he discovered ‘black gold’. His find launched a oil rush and soon the town’s population swelled to 4,000. By 1861 400 wells had been dug or drilled in the area. Today the population of Oil Springs sits at about 800. Visitors can tour the Oil Museum of Canada, a National Historic Site, which features a replica of the first oil well, and you’ll find oil wells beside the museum that are still producing today. About 11 km north of Oil Springs is Petrolia, where another oil gusher was found in 1866. This town went on to become the oil capital of Canada for 40 years. Here you can visit The Petrolia Discovery, a heritage conservation site with a working 19th-century oil field.

Oil Springs is about a 40-minute drive from Sarnia, in Lambton County, in the heart of an area known as the Oil Heritage District. Lambton County is a region of small towns, farms and beautiful beaches.

Quick Tips: You’ll find a wonderful big, busy beach, family activities, and often spectacular sunsets at Grand Bend, and you can enjoy beach life and beautiful sand dunes and camp nearby in the very popular Pinery Provincial Park. Visit this region in late March and you may catch the migration of the Tundra Swans. This is their first stop along their 3000 km route from Chesapeake Bay to the Arctic. Up to 10,000 may be able to be seen at one time. A good place to view them is behind the Lambton Heritage Museum.


Oil Springs, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada


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