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Petrolia (2006 population 5,222) is a town in Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, near Sarnia, Ontariomarker. It is billed as "Canada's Victorian Oil Town" and is often credited with starting the oil industry in North America.

Lambton Central Collegiate & Vocational Institute (LCCVI) is the only high school located in Petrolia.


In 1857 James Miller Williams of Hamilton, Ontariomarker began distilling some of the "tar" lying around Oil Springsmarker (located a few kilometers from Petrolia), after buying the property rights from Charles Nelson Tripp. In July or August of 1858 he struck an oil deposit in Oil Springs while digging a shallow well, sparking the oil drilling industry. This resulted in a large amount of wastage from gushers, estimated at of oil in 1862 alone.

Oil production went through several boom periods in Petrolia, one was in 1898 and another in 1938. Some wells sunk in 1938 were initially producing at a price of $2 per barrel. This output, however, often lasted only a few weeks, falling to less than a barrel a day.

Oil men from Petrolia travelled to the far reaches of the world (Gobi Desert, Arctic, Iranmarker, Indonesiamarker, USAmarker, Australia, Russiamarker, and over 80 other countries) teaching others how to find and extract crude oil. Those born and raised in Petrolia are referred to as "Hard Oilers", paying tribute to the toughness of their ancestors. Petrolia is also home to the Petrolia Discovery museum. Oil fields in the area are still pumping there to this day.

Media and Entertainment

Petrolia is home to Victoria Hall, a National Historic Site. Originally a fire hall, municipal office, police hall, jail and opera house, it was completed in 1889 for a total cost of $35 000. In January 1989, a fire caused extensive damage. It was subsequently restored, and re-opened in 1992. Currently it houses the town hall and Victoria Playhouse.

The Petrolia Topic is the sole newspaper in the town of Petrolia. It is owned by Osprey Media.

The Oil Heritage District Community Centre was opened in Petrolia in 2006, after twenty years of campaigning by the group "The Oil Heritage District Community Centre Association" which was started in 1985. It serves rural and town residents in central Lambton County.



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