Ontario's Oil Refining Industry

Stimulated by the discovery of significant oil deposits in Enniskillen Township, Ontario's first commercial refineries were erected in 1857-62 at Sarnia, Oil Springs, "petrolea" and Hamilton. The industry, developed to produce coal-oil and lubricants, was plagued by explosive fires, market fluctuations and problems of refining. In 1880, to counter growing American competition, several companies joined to form Imperial Oil. In 1898, however, seeking expansion capital, it sold a majority interest to Standard Oil, an American refining company. The following year, Imperial brought its operations here to the lakeside. Although other cities had refineries in operation by 1907, Sarnia's access to higher grade Ohio oil, the new demand for gasoline and, from 1942, the location here of major petro-chemical industries established Sarnia as Ontario's principal refining centre.


At the main office of the Imperial Oil Refinery, Christina and Clifford Streets, Sarnia

Region: Southwestern Ontario

County/District: County of Lambton

Municipality: City of Sarnia