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The First Fire Houses of Petrolia
Following the discovery of oil at Oil Springs in 1857 prospectors extended their search to the entire township of Enniskillen." At first, eclipsed by Oil Springs, the community developed slowly. But in 1865-66 a series of discoveries culminating in the drilling of the King well established Petrolia as the major oil-producing centre in Canada and its population soared from about 300 to some 2,300. Incorporated as the village of Petrolia in 1866, it became a town in January 1, 1874.
Around 1868 there was a fire at the King well with the loss of 75,000 Barrels of crude. Two years later the first Fire Hall was built on Pearl and First Ave. Fire was such a hazard in the oil smeared settlement that a second Fire Hall was built on Fletcher St. in 1872 and a group of fire fighters organized in the west end of town. Water Tanks were set up around the streets and oil was then stored underground in Blue Clay as a safety precaution.
Another safety hazard were the nitro plants. Nitro came to Petrolia very early in the oil boom. American driller who invented the torpedo to blast opens rock strata, brought it to Canada. A nitro manufacturing plant on the Blind line at Marthaville and sold torpedoes from a firm opened here in 1872. Nitro was often carted through town streets and country by horse and cart. A nitro bylaw was passed against movement of nitro through town. Several nitro plants were erected at a safe distance along the Blind line. Eventually all of them blew up.
The Victoria Hall was erected in 1887 and served as a Town hall as well as the Central Fire Station and Police Station.