The Indicator: 15
THAT’S HOW MANY DECADES THE BARNES FAMILY
has been producing oil near the site of North America’s first commercial oil well in the village of Oil Springs, Ontario, discovered in 1858. The original discovery well still exists today, preserved by the local Oil Museum of Canada. Ben Barnes and his father carry on the five-generation family legacy; Barnes owns Double B Well Services and his father, Lonnie, owns the Barnes Oil Company. “I don’t think I could do anything else,” the younger Barnes says.
The Barnes family’s ancestors were blacksmiths by trade who moved to Oil Springs during the boom of the 1860s. They opened a hotel for the workers and soon owned several oil wells of their own. Up until the 1960s, Barnes’s father and grandfather continued to work with outdated technologies, including wooden derricks and pump jacks. It’s a reminder of how far the oil industry has come—and how fast. Today, Canadian oil production is top-of-the-line in efficiency, safety and sustainability. But production wouldn’t be there without the fearless, and sometimes reckless, innovation of early prospectors. Having such a family heritage also yields a crucial advantage that other producers must envy—royalty-free production, in accordance with Ontario’s mineral rights laws for landowners.
The original three-pole derricks used in Oil Springs, Ontario, are a reminder of the dramatic advances made in oil technology over 150 years