Where Alberta’s oil boom began


Historic Turner Valley was the epicentre for the province’s economic engine

A ZenSeekers' road trip isn't complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, and culinary, learning and cultural experiences. During summer 2018, create your #BucketlistAB itinerary in Southern Alberta and come and stay a night and see a sight.

Matthew Bailey

Did you know that a small town in southern Alberta is the birthplace of the modern oil and gas industry in Western Canada?

The Turney Valley Gas Plant is a national and provincial historic site, that was the first commercial oilfield processing plant, kickstarting the oil and gas industry in Alberta. For a province whose economic engine is oil and gas, that's a pretty important headline for this small town not far from Calgary.

Stay a Night & See a Sight, build your #BucketlistAB

Watch Explore Turner Valley Gas Plant #BucketlistAB on YouTube.

Local historian David Finch is a wealth of information on our tour that included people ranging in ages from 25 to 70. Starting off in the exhibit room, we looked at old black and white photos and artefacts that detailed how the plant operated and the jobs people did there. We moved on to explore the various facilities, such as the compressor plant, the scrubbing plant, and the gasoline and propane plant. It was interesting and kind of eerie to see the original equipment used to process gas in the early 1900s.

Turner Valley
Photo: Matthew Bailey

With the gas stacks towering over us, we lean in to learn about the dangers of working in a gas plant.

"The fact that Calgary is home to the headquarters for so many oil and gas companies is owed to the Turner Valley Gas Plant,” said David. “That's how important this place was for Calgary and the rest of the province."

Garry Bailey, visiting from the nearby town of Okotoks was as surprised as I was at the importance of the Turner Valley plant. "I had no idea this place existed. I've even worked in the oil and gas industry and had no idea that Turney Valley was basically the starting point of it all. I'm glad we came," he said.

For anyone interested in the petrochemical industry, the buildings and equipment on display reflect the evolution of natural gas processing and the technological changes in the oil and gas sector. Besides being Alberta's first natural gas plant, it also started the modern era of oil and gas exploration and processing and was one of Canada's most significant petroleum processing facilities. The plant was decommissioned in 1985.

Getting an in-depth look at the technology that shaped the oil and gas industry many decades ago.

Touring around the Turney Valley Gas Plant provided some fascinating facts about Alberta. It was May 14, 1914 when wet natural gas sprayed out of the wellbore at Dingman No. 1 (one of the stops on the tour) and now, more than 100 years later, you can stand in the very spot that changed the Alberta’s future forever.

If You Go

Turner Valley is about an hour’s drive south of Calgary.

Learn more about BucketlistAB here.

Grab an awesome itinerary and start your Southern Alberta adventure.

Learn more about the Turner Valley Gas Plant tour.

Learn more about our ZenSeekers #BucketlistAB expedition by checking into our official website

Travel Alberta also has lots of great information about things to do and places to see in Turner Valley along the Cowboy Trail.

Matthew Bailey is a Canadian travel writer, photographer, and video host with MustDoCanada.com . Follow his travels on Instagram and Twitter @MatthewGBailey and @MustDoCanada.

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