Unlocking the possibilities

By Sandra L. Brown

March 23, 2017 12:00 AM

BACK IN THE DAY The Excelsior Refineries yard, circa 1945, when it began operations. LLOYDMINSTER REGIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO

The Lloydminster and District Board of Trade published a booklet, circa 1953, titled Black Oil Center of North America, which focuses on the amazing growth of Lloydminster.
Full of statistics and photos, it was felt our contributions—including asphalts, diesel fuels and manufacturing plants—to the Canadian industrial development in a formerly recognized agricultural community were gaining significance. 
The growing demand for these products assured Lloydminster a sound economic future.
Lloydminster had a continual growth in population, trade and development of natural resources.
Its population grew from 1,800 to 5,300 in eight years. 
Alongside this growth was a remarkable commercial development, which included a high school, public school, municipal hospital, hotel, two banks, numerous retail stores, garages and four churches.
Area production increased from 44,000 barrels in 1945 to 3,000,000 barrels in 1953. 
Setting us apart from other oil was the fact: “It possesses certain important chemical characteristics not usually found in black oils.” 
This resulted in many types of superior asphalt being produced along with its many by-products,  which increased demand for this specific type of crude. 
This demand resulted in bringing prosperity to the local economy.
The products of Sidney Roofing and Paper Company included asphalt roofing, shingles, rolls and siding.
These were marketed across Western Canada from the Lloydminster plant.  Established in 1950, the Dominion Products Company was the largest producer in Western Canada. 
They locally manufactured foundation coatings, bonded flat roofing materials, and asphaltic aluminum paints.
Beginning operations in 1945, the Excelsior Refineries were an important producer and refiner of black oil. 
In 1951, their refining capacity was 3,000 barrels per day. 
This business owned and had interests in over 80 wells that supplied the refinery with crude. 
Its annual payroll was over $200,000 for approximately 60 employees. 
“A score of other products are also refined from Lloydminster’s black oil.  They are used in the manufacture of such materials as coal spray, briquette binders, various grades of roofing, caulking compounds, canal lining membranes, powdered asphalt for the pulp and paper industry, wood preservatives and paints.”
Lloydminster experienced “one of the lowest domestic rates for natural gas in North America.”
This low cost fuel enabled industries to keep operating expenses to a minimum. 
“Each of the large refineries in the city maintains its own supply, often utilizing gas from producing oil wells…The Excelsior refinery is supplied by the Lloydminster Gas Company, returning to the company’s field lines an equal amount of gas from its own wells.”
Supplying 183 customers in its first year (1934), the Lloydminster Gas Company eventually drilled over 70 wells searching for new reserves. 
Lloydminster was connected with other major centres by various types of transportation. 
Daily freight and passenger service going east and west were provided by the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways.
Operating two daily flights except on Sundays, Canadian Pacific Airlines offered one hour flights to Edmonton and four hour flights to Regina. 
From these destinations, direct connections could be made with other airlines. 
Operated by the city, the modern-day airport had a gravelled landing strip that was 150 feet wide.
With its 24 volunteer members, the Fire Department included a chief and deputy chief. 
One of the best equipped of any similar sized community, their equipment included three pumpers, one hose truck and auxiliary gear housed in a newly completed fire station.
The Barr Colonists are believed to be the second largest colonization scheme on the North American continent. 
With their early perception and steadfast courage, they recognized the limitless possibilities that their newly established town offered. 
Today’s modern pioneers continue to repeat this courage. 
“Situated as it is in the heart of a rich oil field, stabilized by a sound, established agricultural economy, Lloydminster is no boom town.
“Rather, it is an important center, alert to its responsibilities and prepared for the steady, sustained prosperity that lies ahead.” 
The Lloydminster and District Board of Trade with its 200 business owners and professionals valuably contributed towards the city’s growth and significant importance.
They were most notably focused on the marketing of business, agriculture, oil, natural gas and their subsequent industries. 
These members were a huge factor in making Lloydminster the prosperous community it is today.

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