Charlie Fairbank, like his father and uncles before him, studied at Ridley from 1956 to 1959. He then earned a biology degree from Western University and a teaching degree from Queen’s University. After a few short years teaching secondary school science, he chose to take over the family oil field in Oil Springs, established by his great-grandfather in 1861.
With Charlie at the helm, the oil field has grown to 350 wells on 600 acres, producing 24,000 barrels of crude each year for Imperial Oil. The oil field contains the 1862 site of Canada’s first gusher and runs on authentic 19th century technology. It became a National Historic Site in 1925.
The running of Fairbank Oil is Charlie’s main occupation, but his life’s work is to gain recognition for Canada’s oil roots in Oil Springs and nearby Petrolia. In ways both great and small, Charlie’s efforts to gain recognition for oil heritage has been noted. He has received numerous heritage awards, including both the provincial and national Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. His heritage accomplishments earned him a place in the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame and last year, he was presented an award for his essay for the Association of Preservation Technology International. UNESCO World Heritage is his next aim.