Craigleith Shale Oil Works 1859, The

A growing demand for artificial light led to the establishment, in 1859, of a firm headed by William Darley Pollard of Collingwood. He erected a plant here to obtain oil through the treatment of local bituminous shales. The process, patented by Pollard, involved the destructive distillation of fragmented shale in cast-iron retorts heated by means of wood. The 30 to 35 tons of shale distilled daily yielded 250 gallons of crude oil, which was refined into illuminating and heavy lubricating oils. The enterprise, the only one of its kind in the province's history, failed by 1863. The inefficiency of its process made its products uncompetitive after the discoveries of "free" oil at Petrolia and Oil Springs, near Sarnia.


Near the site of the former oil works, at the east end of Craigleith Provincial Park, Highway 26

Region: Southwestern Ontario

County/District: County of Grey

Municipality: Craigleith Provincial Park