65 Years In The Making

Pipestone Flyer

 On August 18th and 19th an anniversary celebration like none other will be taking place at the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre. Sixty five years ago on February 13, 1947, the Leduc #1 well site just outside of Devon, struck black gold. Some say that this was the day Alberta really began.

 A previous oil strike had happened in Turner Valley, Alberta several years before, but the massive strike at Leduc overshadowed everything else. For a province that had been hit hard by drought early in the century, and then endured the terrible recession in the thirties, and the Second World War which had only ended two years previously, the discovery of oil was a dream come true. It changed our province from a relatively poor and strictly agriculturally based province, to a wealthy industrial/agricultural province.

 "To not know your history is to know nothing." quotes Lynn Brown, the Marketing Coordinator at the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre, which now occupies the original Leduc #1 well site. Don Hunter, the Executive Director of the Centre, is actually the son of Vern "Dry Hole" Hunter, the man who drilled and struck the Leduc #1 well. And while the Centre certainly pays homage to Alberta's energy history, it also looks forward and educates young and old alike to our energy future as well.

 Between Lynn and Don, along with the many volunteers at the Centre, and partnerships with supporters such as Schlumberger, Imperial Oil, Grizzly Power, PCL, and Alberta Oil Tool to name just a few, a major extravaganza has been planned on August 18th and 19th to celebrate both the history and the future of Leduc #1.

 The celebration starts at 9:30 on Saturday the 18th, with some demonstrations taking place, but at 11am the party really kicks off with a reenactment of the "coming in" of Leduc #1. A vocal recording taken on Feb. 13, 1947, as the strike was made at Leduc #1, will be played as the reenactment takes place, but instead of oil, this time the well will shoot water high into the air.

 "We'll also have what is probably the oldest rig crew in the world working that day!" laughed Lynn Brown. All of the crew are over 75 years old, with some of them having been at the original strike in 1947. They will be performing a live rig demonstration on Saturday afternoon.

 These venerable and knowledgable gentlemen will then be situated throughout the site at different displays where they will be able to interact with, and answer questions from, anyone wanting to hear about this industry's fascinating history.

 With an eye to making sure there is something there for everyone, there will also be a cupcake tea held on both days, under a hand painted tent and offering many scrumptious delicacies including "oil drop" cupcakes created by a local cake artist.

 For the kids, the Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Heritage Society, are creating a 20X20 foot sandbox with ride-on miniature road building equipment, and the Adventure Bus will be on site as well. The bus is basically an indoor jungle gym for kids, with a slide, climbing wall and trampoline, amongst other things, inside of it.

 Plus, if you love good food, particularly BBQ, then you absolutely do not want to miss this event! Sunday morning kicks off with a pancake breakfast served by the Knights of Columbus, and beginning at 1pm, ten teams will be vying for the glory of being named "Champion Griller of the World"! There will be half a ton of BBQ'ed ribs on offer, with flavours unique and delicious enough to tempt any taste buds. Each team has to have a theme as well, so costumes, decorations and anything else deemed to "set the mood" is highly encouraged. In years past some teams have even employed bands to try and get an edge on the competition. With the most teams ever entered this year, it should be an event that tickles each of the five senses. Even if you are not a BBQ aficionado, many vendors will be on site offering a variety of treats guaranteed to find favour with everyone.

 Live entertainment will be going on throughout the weekend with the band Sidekick playing on Saturday and Sunday, and there will also be a special appearance by recording artist Tim Hus, performing his song "Alberta Crude".

The RHHS Roadbuilders, who themselves are creating an educational centre and museum alongside of Leduc #1 site, will be giving demonstrations of some of their massive machinery, and the Leduc #1 museum, with all of it's displays will be open and running tours, as well as Braun Hall which will be staffed by volunteers from the Hospital Auxiliary. 

 A mini oil show will be taking place on the grounds at the same time, which is also open to the public, and numerous interactive displays will be in place around the grounds.

 Saturday night there is a very special event planned, which is going to be held at 5pm in Devon at the Dale Fisher Arena. Practically a legend here in Alberta, Danny Hooper will be putting his skills as one of the World's top five auctioneers to good use at a dinner and auction to raise funds for the Centre. With approximately 200 prizes to be won, such as a fly in fishing trip for four to Norman Wells, a condo stay in Hawaii, or a golf vacation to Fairmont Hot Springs to name just a few, it should be an exciting evening that sells out quickly.

 The Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre is entirely privately owned and operated so fund raising events such as this dinner is important in order to keep the Centre running and growing. The Centre relies on private donations and partnerships within the energy industry to provide this place of historical accuracy and education for tours and camps of school aged children, as well as being a training facility for oil field workers. Every new employee of National Oilwell Varco is brought to the Centre to learn about their chosen industry.

 An amazing place to visit at any point over the summer months, there is even a campsite rights on the grounds so visitors can stay as long as they like to explore the Centre.

 So if you have never been to the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre, or even if you have been many times before, the weekend of August 18 &19 should not be missed. For more information about the celebration or the Centre itself, you can go online to www.leducnumber1.com, or call the Centre directly at 780-987-