A February Day That Changed Leduc Forever

That day was Thursday, February 13th 1947. It was a crisp, sunny winter afternoon when about 500 people  began to gather on Mike Turta’s farm. Joining Mike that day where a number of government people, oil workers from Imperial Oil, a small flock of newspaper reporters, and some of Mike’s neighbors. The word had gone out that Imperial’s Leduc #1 was about to show results. 
    The indications were that shortly after noon the well should come in, but as the afternoon wore on and nothing seemed to be happening many got tired of stamping their feet on the snowy ground and shivering to keep warm and would leave. For those who stayed at around 4 in the afternoon they saw a ring of black smoke go floating into the air. Those who had remained soon saw driller George Tosh and his fellow crewmembers began dancing a jig and shouting “It’s Oil! It’s Oil!
    Every since the first oil well had been discovered in Turner Valley in 1914, Imperial Oil had been looking for additional sites that could produce. By the end of World War II, the known Canadian oil reserves were about 72,000,000 barrels and Turner Valley had been almost depleted by conventional means. Over the years Imperial had drilled 133 dry wells known as dusters and had spent over $23 million in search of black gold. After thirty years of dusters Imperial Oil agreed to drill one more deep well. The 134th well was to be the last attempt and was scheduled for a spot near Pigeon Lake. At the last minute in order to save money the Leduc site was picked as it was closer to major transportation facilities. It would be the well that would change Leduc and Alberta forever.
        The discovery skyrocketed Canada’s reserves to over 250,000,000 barrels. Alberta saw another “gold” rush and soon discoveries would be made in the Pembina and Redwater areas. By the mid 1950’s, these additional discoveries pushed the reserves to the 2 billion barrel mark. 
        By the mid 1950’s in an eighty square mile area over 1260 wells had been drilled and were producing. The rapid growth that resulted in meeting the needs of the oil field was more than Leduc could handle and soon a new community was born and was named after the geological formation where the first well had discovered oil.  What was once a poor barley field soon became a camp town for Imperial Oil and in 1950 it quickly went from a hamlet to the town of Devon.
        In 1947, the road system into the oil field left a lot to be desired. Most roads were no more than trails and during the warmer months were often more mud than road. The most common mode of transportation was Cats dragging stone boats loaded with casings. With the cooperation of the Leduc municipality and the various oil companies improved roads began to spread out from the Nisku area. Nisku was chosen as the best place to unload supplies from the railroad and became a natural jumping off spot for the rigs pouring into the oil field. 
        By 1972 the county had developed Nisku into an industrial park. It was a good decision and as the Leduc field began to diminish Nisku has remained an excellent location to service the entire province with its oil field needs.
        In 1947, Leduc’s population sat at approximately 900 people and four years later it had doubled to over 1842 people. That growth saw an influx of businesses to met the demands of newcomers. That growth has continued nearly unabated to this day.

        February 13th, 1947 marks the day when Leduc changed from a sleepy rural community depended on agriculture to the bustling multi facet urban center of today. 

Photos from the City of Leduc archives 

More Stories:
  • Millet Harvest Fair The Town of Millet Council and Administration started off the Harvest fair with a BBQ on Friday, from noon till 2:30 pm with hamburgers and hot dogs. The food was cooked with tender loving care by the Mayor, Rob Lorensen, ...
  • Eastlink Creates A $10,000 Link To Daycare In Wetaskiwin “Eastlink is dedicated to playing an active role in supporting charitable and non-profit organizations and activities that enrich the families and communities in which we operate,” declared Julie Benoit, Regional Marketing ...
  • Millet Fire Department: Full-Service Fire & Rescue Experts Did you know that the fire department in Millet is manned entirely by volunteers? Did you know that they are, “on-call,” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year? And did you know that they are as qualified as you will ...
  • A Happy Comeback It’s been one year since I left the Pipestone Flyer for a much needed ‘sabbatical’, after two and a half years of my weekly column, reporting on regional happenings, and experiencing some personal changes... It was a year ...
  • Leduc County Boot Drive Six Leduc County firefighters will be representing Canada in the upcoming World Rescue Organization’s World Rescue Challenge. Team Captain, Rob Csolle, said the team of volunteer firefighters made substantial progress in ...
  • Amazing Corn Maze For the past fourteen years, Leduc and area residents know when fall is approaching as that is when the Amazing Corn Maze begins to welcome visitors. From early August until Thanksgiving, people have the opportunity to wander ...
  • Bigger Play Space At Notre-Dame On Tuesday, August 26th, while the school community prepares for the return to school, a group of dedicated parents got together to proudly receive a well-deserved cash influx into the Notre-Dame Playground Expansion project. ...
  • Millet 16th Anniversary Concert Millet's Concert in the Country celebrated its 16th Anniversary this year with full attendance and a variety of music styles by gifted performers. Each performer or group brought a special highlight and style to their set. ...
  • Leduc Firefighter Headed for World Championship For the past several years the Leduc Fire Department has had success in competing in the FireFit Championships. Most notably have been Kerry Harper and Kari Skierka who have represented the department at a number of international ...
  • RCMP Musical Ride Wetaskiwin When an RCMP officer is dressed in the traditional RCMP scarlet serge jacket, blue breeches featuring a bold yellow stripe, long shiny brown boots with jack spurs and brown serge leather gloves, that officer attracts attention ...
  • Rock The Rails 2014 The 8th Annual Rock the Rails was held on Saturday, August 23rd, and was the most successful to date. The competition was held at the Skateboard Park starting at 11am. It was a perfect day, with sunny skies and a mild wind ...
  • Local Student Awarded $1000 Scholarship "I am incredibly thankful to be selected as a 2014 Tim Hortons scholarship recipient,” remarked Peiyi Liang at the local Tim Hortons restaurant on August 13th, 2014. “Earning this scholarship will lessen the burden that comes ...
  • Doctors Are Writing Prescriptions to Get Active Submitted by Glenna Mageau Primary Care Network Wetaskiwin Patients wanting to increase their physical activity and improve their health can now get a prescription to help encourage them. Primary Care Network (PCN) family ...
  • Millet Public Library Wraps Up A Busy Summer Submitted by Margaret Blackstock The Centre for Family Literacy visited the Millet Public Library on August 13 for a fun filled morning with children and parents attending. The parents learned how children develop speaking ...
  • Pedal For Kids A local woman will be hopping on her bicycle to help get more kids off the sidelines. Rachel Yeung, the Leduc area’s Jumpstart representative, will be participating in a five-day bike ride from Ottawa to Quebec City next ...
  • By-the-Lake Park Trail Open To Wheel Chairs And Walkers Located on the outskirts of Wetaskiwin, just west of Adams Pontiac along 56 Avenue is a peaceful outdoor setting, By-the-Lake Park. This park offers a diverse array of recreational opportunities and events such as weddings, ...
  • Loonstock 2014 A Resounding Success The Loonstock promotional materials stated the ‘gates open @ 1:00 pm Saturday, August 16th, 2014’. However, when driving by the Loons Golf Course & RV Park course on Friday, August 15th, it looked like everyone was already ...
  • "We Love Art' Celebration Art Smith is an institution around Wetaskiwin. He won't turn 94 until December, but one of his nieces enlisted the aid of a couple more to put on a birthday celebration of, “We Love Art” during the lovely summer weather. ...
  • Calmar Fair Days This past weekend was another great time in Calmar as the town welcomed people from as far away as Texas to their annual fair days and mega market. Calmar has always been known for its hospitality and this annual event is ...
  • Leduc Regional Parent Link One of the more successful programs available to Leduc County and City residents has been the Leduc Regional Parent Link. This is an initiative of the Alberta Children and Youth Services that is run by the County for the ...




 
  • Leduc Radio Ad
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia