Leduc County, AB – Sixty-six years ago, on February 13 1947, a huge oil discovery south of Devon, Alberta was featured on global headlines, an event that changed the history of this region and pushed forward its prosperous future.
On Wednesday February the 13th, visitors and volunteers gathered at the Centre to enjoy free tours, coffee and cake. A low-key milestone, it was meant to celebrate the oil discovery that made a drastic impact on the development of this region, namely the creation of the Town of Devon and the rapid growth of the City of Leduc, but it was a quiet affair when compared to last year’s 65th Anniversary. On August 17 and 18 of 2012, the Centre went all out to celebrate this milestone with 10,111 visitors -yes, the count was quite exact-! Regional politicians and VIPs joined visitors from far and wide, retired and active workers of the Oil & Gas industry, media and musical entertainers to celebrate and enjoy tours of the Museum, and the Annual Rib Cook-off where ten local teams competed for the top honor, each cooking 100 lbs of ribs and encouraging votes. The 13 acres of Energy Industry artifacts, vehicles and equipment were also showcased, as well as the impressive and memorable earthmoving demonstrations by the RHHS, the Roadbuilders’ Historical Heritage Society.
Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre is a world-class interpretive museum that hosts a large building full of interesting displays explaining the Oil and Gas Sector: from gas production to Oil Sands exploration, a colorful collection of drill bits and several models of offshore rigs, communication devices through the ages and an impressive display of instrumentation tools and gauges, oil transportation and gas processing, the museum has attracted hundreds of thousands visitors over the past decades. Among other displays that get added to every single year, the centre owns the largest drill bit in the world: the NEXEN Express is an interactive, audio-visual display that can host up to ten visitors, and that describes the formations that Oil & Gas operators have to drill through to reach these precious resources: it makes you feel like you are descending and ascending through the earth’s layers, and has been a hugely popular attraction since its creation a few years ago.
The Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre was created to highlight this oil discovery and educate the population on the many complex aspects of oil and gas exploration and production: it was created by a group of enthusiastic individuals, and its continued growth and popularity will be sustained by a few government grants and by the energy sector’s financial support, as well as by individual donations and bequests. The Centre’s Legacy Fund has been a successful venture in past years, encouraging individuals and families to leave bequests to the Centre: its Wall of Donors is an impressive display of names engraved on 12 x 12 tiles, recognizing donors and individuals who have worked in the Oil Patch and whose families want them to be remembered.
On January 30th, the Centre lost a special friend when Jack Ellis, the talented “Artist of the Patch” died suddenly after a life filled with talent and adventures. A spiritual man, bringing his passion for the Oil & Gas and for Canadian scenery to the canvas in rich and colorful oils, etchings and watercolors, Jack Ellis made many friends wherever he traveled and worked: Jack was also a late bloomer when he reconnected with his love of singing, having joined the Grove City Chorus that performed at his memorial, gaining many new fans in the process! Several of Jack’s paintings adorn the Museum’s walls, including a large panoramic piece of art depicting the rich industries of the Prairies, a work of art he completed with the cooperation of a Devon artist.
The Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre is now open to the public from Monday to Friday after a short winter break. The search is on for two articulate and energetic summer students, and the Board of Directors is also seeking a few individuals to lend their energetic and congenial personalities to fill vacant board positions. Lynn Dunstan, the Centre’s Admin manager and Don Hunter, the Acting Executive Director can be contacted at 780-987-4323. When you visit this world-class Energy museum, they promise you will be amazed, enlightened and… certainly entertained!