Twenty three LWI members ventured out on a cool fall day to walk the nature trail on the Fairbank Oil property just outside of Oil Springs. Larry Cornelis led the hike and the group was fortunate to also have the property owners Charlie Fairbank and Pat McGee accompany us to provide some wonderful stories about the history of the property and the oil industry, as well as to explain the various oil production devices and artifacts found along the trail. Charlie’s ancestors were prominent in the oil business dating back to the first oil wells.
The Fairbank property sits above the large oil field that spawned the oil exploration and extraction industry in the mid 1850’s, and the field continues to produce oil to this day from numerous wells located all over the property. Many small oil pumps are visible along the trail, dutifully moving up and down to pull the crude oil up from a depth of close to 400 feet. The unique aspect of the Fairbank approach to oil extraction is that many of these oil wells are using technology from the 1800’s. The site is being considered as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Charlie had recently returned from Ottawa where he made a presentation in support of the application.
The trail entrance, with parking, is located on Gypsy Flats side road just south of Oil Springs Line. The well-maintained trail meanders through prairie and riparian areas along Black Creek. There are numerous signs indicating sections of the trail that are named for historical figures from the local oil industry. A sturdy and attractive bridge crosses Black Creek and we were told that birds nest under it each year. Larry Cornelis has conducted wildlife surveys on the property over several years, with many species being observed. Although not many birds, insects or animals were seen on this day, it’s certain that in spring and summer there would be lots to see. Tallgrass prairie species have been planted in many of the areas of this trail, with plans to continue to naturalize the property.
It’s a breath of fresh air when generous people allow the public to access their property and enjoy the natural beauty that resides there. We appreciate the creation of this nature trail and encourage all LWI members to visit.
Further information about the history of the local oil industry can be found by visiting the Oil Museum of Canada, located a very short distance from this nature trail. https://www.lambtonmuseums.ca/oil/
In 1973 the Honourable John T. Clement, Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations issued a Charter for the Incorporation of Lambton Wildlife. “Lambton Wildlife Incorporated … Subject to The Mortmain and Charitable Uses Act and The Charitable Gifts Act: (a) encourage and promote the conservation, preservation and protection of the natural environment, plants, animals, natural resources and wildlife; (b) collect moneys by way of donations, gifts, devises, bequests, dues or otherwise… (c) print, publish, sell and distribute literature of every nature and kind …. (d) purchase, acquire, take by gift, devise, bequest or donation property, both real and personal.”
The following document was produced by the Lambton Wildlife President, Brenda Kulon, in 1985. The page was from a newly created directory and it includes a list of outstanding accomplishments up to that point in the club’s history.
It’s important to know where we came from and where we are going.
On April 26, 1975, a cool but sunny spring day, Dr. Peter Tasker, LWI’s first President, presided over the official opening of Mandaumin Woods. This was the first property purchased by Lambton Wildlife. It is a 25 acre Carolinian woodlot located just south of the village of Mandaumin.
This property was dedicated to the memory of LWI Conservationist Laura Knight.
Dr. Tasker addressed the group of members and friends.
There was an excellent turn out for this historic event in Lambton Wildlife’s history.Gail and Eric Knight untied the rope to open the woodlot. In the background is Elizabeth Tasker, one of the founding members.
Directions: Located about 1.5 km south of the village of Mandaumin (intersection of Mandaumin
Road and Confederation Street) on the west side of Mandaumin Road (highway 26).
Mandaumin is 5 km south of highway 402.
Birders tend to congregate in special places like Canatara Park and Point Pelee. This was the case with Dr. Peter Tasker and his wife Elizabeth. They kept meeting Gerry Clements, Dennis Rupert and Stephanie and Roy John on nature trails. They found they had many common interests and in 1966 they decided to form a club. Dr.Tasker was the first President, Gerry Clements was vice President and field trip leader, Elizabeth was Treasurer and Stephanie was entertainment. Also joining them were Dennis and Sue Rupert.
This lasted for about a year and a half. They worked very hard to bring in new members. Peter drew many doctors into the group. Membership was five dollars. They met at the Sarnia Library. Gerry describes Elizabeth as a human dynamo, holding teas to introduce the group and get new members to join, such as Isobel Greenop, Dennis and Sue Rupert and Joan Banks. They made displays, put on plays, had important speakers such as Robert Bateman and had fun! Dr.Tasker wrote a weekly column for the Observer called “Meadow Man.”
They became close as a group. One project they started was to save a sand dune in Port Franks. This dune, the highest point in Lambton County, was being destroyed by road builders who needed the sand. They won and thus began many campaigns to help save our environment.
The following speech was given by Larry Cornelis, Board Member and Head of the Outdoor Committee for Lambton Wildlife, at the recent 50th Anniversary event held at the Sarnia Public Library Theatre. Larry is also a past President.
It’s with great pleasure and pride that we share on overview of the accomplishments and achievements of Lambton Wildlife since the clubs inception in 1966. (more…)