Celebrating 100 years since the Turner Valley oil strike

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am

A MONUMENTAL MOMENT — From left, Martin Hovis and Joseph Brown work on the Dingman <br />discovery well in Turner Valley in 1914. The significance of the Turner Valley Gas Plant will be shared with hundreds of people during a centennial celebration at the national historic site on May 14.
A MONUMENTAL MOMENT — From left, Martin Hovis and Joseph Brown work on the Dingman
discovery well in Turner Valley in 1914. The significance of the Turner Valley Gas Plant will be shared with hundreds of people during a centennial celebration at the national historic site on May 14.
COURTESY OF THE PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES OF ALBERTA

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The birthplace of Alberta’s oil and gas industry is experiencing another boom.

But instead of a surge of oil and gas bubbling up in Turner Valley, it will be people filling the Turner Valley Gas Plant historic site on May 14 to celebrate one century since the discovery of natural gas changed Alberta’s future.

Among those in attendance are Sharlene Brown, Black Diamond mayor and past president of the Turner Valley Oilfield Society, which partnered with Alberta Culture and various municipalities, organizations and businesses to host the centennial celebration.

“It’s important to recognize the placement of our history, our culture that we had,” said Brown. “You look at the impact the gas plant had throughout Alberta and all of Canada. It was a leading provider of the resource of oil and gas throughout the whole country.”

It all began 100 years ago today.

Natural gas was discovered spewing out of Dingman well #1 and Turner Valley quickly became the largest producer of oil and gas in the British empire, attracting workers from across the continent and becoming a popular training grounds in the industry.

The gas plant itself was constructed in the 1930s and remained in operation until 1985. Since then, the facility became a provincial and national historic site — the only surviving example of its kind in Canada.

“It’s fabulous when you look at the history of what the plant site itself provided, not only to Alberta but throughout Canada in that time it was in operation,” said Brown. “It’s absolutely astronomical in the place that it is in Alberta’s history. The history that surrounds that plant site is absolutely amazing and we need to recognize… the leadership the communities in Diamond Valley provided in all of Canada.”

Joining Brown in today’s celebration are government officials, professionals in the oil and gas industry and those who worked at the gas plant decades ago.

“Nothing would have happened without those people and they need to be recognized and they still live in our community,” said Brown.

“They are the people that worked and lived at that plant site.”

Guided tours of the plant led by interpreters dressed in period costume occur throughout the day starting at 10 a.m., including approximately 900 students from schools throughout the region.

All visitors must sign up at the site tour tent beside the light plant upon arrival at the Turner Valley Gas Plant.

Family entertainment and children’s activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and food and beverages will be available at the main tent from noon until 2:30 p.m.

A formal program will include speeches by Laureen Harper, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck, Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Steir, Legacy Oil and Gas president Trent Yanko, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president David Collyer and Alberta Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Klimchuk said the celebration is a critical piece of Alberta’s history.

“The day that Dingman #1 came in was the day that Alberta’s commercial oil and gas industry was born,” she said. “The events of 100 years ago resonate today.

“We’re proud to partner with community and industry stakeholders in centennial celebrations on May 14 at the Turner Valley Gas Plant historic site commemorating this important event.”

Those planning to tour the Turner Valley Gas Plant on May 14 must take a shuttle from either the Scott Seaman Arena in Black Diamond or the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch. Shuttles operate approximately every 15 minutes from 9:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walking to the site or parking at the site is not permitted.

Other activities in Turner Valley include a beer garden and food at the Royal Canadian Legion from noon until 10 p.m., a complementary tea at the Valley Neighbours Club from noon until 2:30 p.m. by the Turner Valley Oilfield Society and a historic photo display at the Sheep River Public Library from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Turner Valley Gas Plant will also be open for guided tours this weekend from May 17 until 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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