Saturday, December 01, 2007

Don’t Get Lost In History

Once upon a time there was this crusty old Irish-born frontiersman that went by the name of John George "Kootenai" Brown. Kootenai was off camping and trappin’ (as you do when you’re a pioneer) in the Waterton Lakes area when he noticed some black stuff seeping out of a lake the Natives referred to as ‘Stinking Waters’.
Kootenai soaked up the oil in gunnysacks and used it to lubricate the wheels of his wagon and to fuel his lamps. He also created a device to siphon out the oil. He’d then barrel it, selling it to his neighbors for $1 a gallon.

This was in the early 1900’s and the first time anyone had sold oil in Alberta. 1902 brought along Alberta’s first big ‘boom’.
Other booms followed in 1914 and 1936. But it wasn’t until 1947 when a major strike in Leduc that oil and gas replaced agriculture as the province’s economic driver

Back in 1903 the boom was in full swing. Both honest business folks and speculators poured in. They gathered and began building ‘Oil City’ in hopes of the pumping oil derricks. Canada’s first ‘discovery well’ extracted 300 barrels per day.

The oil was the traditional kind that pumped and spurted out of the ground but turned to a trickle in 1908. ‘Oil Town’ was abandoned and the search for new oil in Alberta was on.

Throughout the decades millions of dollars were made from various oil fields. People came and settled in the province. By the 1950’s more than half of Western Canada’s population-1.3 million, lived in Alberta.
Everyone knew the oil was there, but not gushing- it was locked in the earth. Leaps in technology have been the key to the oil sands and they have become increasingly profitable and sought after. One hundred years later and we’re in the position of maintaining growth, can better understand how to extract the oil efficiently and global thirst for oil is at a paramount.

“Dear Lord, please give me another oil boom and I promise not to blow it”.

Remember that bumper sticker? Quite often there are more reasons of why not to do something then there are of why to. After careful research has been conducted and facts are solid, folks that act like Kootenai and seize the moment are the true frontiersmen.

No one remembers the folks who missed the boom; history remembers those who made it.

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