Lambton's longest oil producing family now has two family members in the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame.
At an induction gala dinner last week in Calgary, Charlie Fairbank accepted a crystal award and was acknowledged by the crowd of 350 guests as the country's newest member of the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame. In 1997, Charlie's great-grandfather John Henry Fairbank was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"Oil Springs and Petrolia made magnificent contributions to the development of oil and it's wonderful to see them rightfully recognized on a national stage," said Charlie Fairbank.
Each year the Selection Committee of the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame, located in the Canadian Petroleum Discovery Centre near the site of the famed Leduc No. 1 oil discovery at Devon, recommends a maximum of six individuals for induction. Through the Hall of Fame, significant contributions to the oil industry are recognized, honoured and celebrated.
"The County of Lambton did not hesitate to nominate Charlie Fairbank for his first-hand knowledge of the oil industry, the advocacy work he undertakes and the support he extends to those interested in oil heritage," said Robert Tremain, General Manager, Cultural Services. "He has made it his life mission to gain recognition for Ontario's oil heritage district, birthplace of the modern oil industry."
Born Charles Oliver Fairbank lll, Charlie Fairbank showed early interest in running the family's oil business. On the advice of his father, he obtained a biology degree and a teaching degree and became a secondary school science teacher as a profession to fall back on, in the event that the oil fields did not meet expectations.
By 1973 Charlie took over Fairbank Oil and under his leadership, it has grown to 350 wells, producing 24,000 barrels of oil annually on 600 acres. Fairbank Oil continues to use 19th century technology, including the jerker line his great grandfather designed. It is designated a National Historic Site.
This is not the first time Fairbank has been awarded for his efforts. In 1992, he received the Canada 125 medal and in 2002 the medal for the Queen Elizabeth ll’s Golden Jubilee. In 2008, he was given three awards: The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Petroleum History Society in Alberta; The Samuel T. Pees Keeper of the Flame Award from the American-based Petroleum History Institute; and the Ontario Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Heritage.
Other notable figures from Lambton's oil history previously inducted into the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame include Charles Tripp, Henry Tripp, James Miller Williams, William McGarvey and John Henry Fairbank.
This year marks Fairbank Oil's 150th year in business. To celebrate the occasion, the Fairbank Family has launched an extensive website at www.fairbankoil.com and has extended an open invitation to the community to visit their oil fields during Culture Days in Lambton County on Saturday, Oct.r 1, 2011. From 1 pm – 4 pm visitors can see how the Fairbank Family pumps oil on their lands, tour by horse-drawn wagon, by vehicle, or by foot, and take a short hike on the nature trail.