Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada
Source: Canada Science and Technology Museum. http://imagescn.technomuses.ca
Calgary’s World War II years revolved around Turner Valley’s status as the only major oil field in Canada at the time. Oil continued to dominate Calgary and Alberta’s economy after the war, when oil was discovered north of Calgary at Leduc in 1947. Suddenly, Alberta was oil rich and Calgary would never be the same. . . .
The oil and gas driven ‘mega-boom’ of the 1970s saw Calgary’s skyline change literally overnight as building permits topped $1 billion dollars per year. The economic boom drove population immigration from other parts of Canada and North America. An average of 3,000 people arrived weekly, driving Calgary’s population to over 500,000. Housing demand drove suburban expansion to unprecedented levels by the end of the 1970s.
Source: Tyler, Dr. Mary-Ellen. “‘Nice City: Wonder What It Will Look Like When It’s Finished:’ A Case Study of Calgary, Alberta – Past, Present and Future.” The University of Calgary. March 1, 2004.
By the 1940s, when the Turner Valley field began to decline and major discoveries were made throughout the province, Canadian oil and gas expertise had been built up and centralised in Calgary. By 1965, an estimated 965 industry headquarters were located in the city. These companies ranged from large multi-national corporations to two- and three-man organisations. Calgary eclipsed Edmonton as the industry’s managerial centre. The Calgary Petroleum Club, formed in 1948 by American and Canadian oilmen, focused on the social aspects of the industry.
Local oilmen became increasingly involved in exploration during the 1950s. Robert A. Brown Jr., the son of the man who discovered oil in Turner Valley, created Home Oil Company Limited in 1955. By 1965, Brown’s company was Canada’s only independently owned major oil company. By the mid-1960s, Brown’s exploration extended beyond Alberta to the North Sea and British Columbia. . . .
As in previous decades, the construction industry reflected boom and bust cycles. Beginning in the 1940s, office-complex construction created resident millionaires and provided ten percent of the labour force with jobs.
Historian Max Foran argues that all aspects of Calgary’s social, political, and economic development, to some degree, reflected the oil boom. By 1965, nearly half of Calgary’s population owed their jobs to the industry.
Source: The Applied Research History Group, University of Calgary. http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/calgary/FRAME1947.html
1. How has the discovery of oil affected Calgary?
2. What are the risks and benefits of basing a city's economy largely on one industry?