!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//w3c//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en"> Petrolia - Canada's Victorian Oil Town



Victoria Hall
Victoria Hall, Petrolia is a national historic site, a provincially designated heritage building and a cultural center for Lambton County.  In January 1989 on the event of its centenary, Victoria Hall was tragically gutted by fire leaving only its massive brick walls intact. As a late 19th century public building Victoria Hall is a very fine example of the Queen Anne style by its leading Canadian exponent, architect George F. Durand.  Durand was born in nearby London ca. 1850 and came from a family of builders and had worked as a young architect on both the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and the New York State Capital building.  The building that Durand created as Petrolia’s town hall exhibits a lightness of touch in the detailing and ornamentation.  The added exuberance of Durand’s design for Victoria Hall was perhaps inspired by the challenge of combining the municipal offices but also the police station and fire hall.  The entire second floor was given over to an opera house. While Victoria Hall is important architecturally on both a regional and national scale, its designation as a national historic site was made for reasons other than the merits of its architectural style.  Victoria Hall represents the culmination of three decades of achievement in Canada’s early industrial development
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                                                                            photo by Sager
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                                                                           photo by Sager

I have had a few questions about Petrolia's Mayors and dates etc. so here they are. This is a picture that hangs in the Municipal Offices. I have added John McCharles our current Mayor.

Click on Victoria to see a history of Victoria Hall.
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                                                                            editor's collection
Early shot of Victoria Hall showing a building 
to the North which is now Victoria Park.
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                                                                 editor's collection
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                                                                             Bradshaw collection
A Grand Ball at Victoria Hall.
Note the ladies Ball Gowns.
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                                                         editor's collection
Sarah Bernhardt appeared at Victoria Hall
in the 1890's.  The most famous actress 
of all time.
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                                                                                   editor's collection
These 2 PlayBills are all I have. The above is ca.1899 from what appears to have been a major concert by the Petrolia Orchestral Club at Old Vic. and notice the names of the performers are all local names.The right is ca.1898 of a production troop that put on a show. If you have one as old and in better condition let me  know.
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                                                                                   editor's collection

                                                                                                         editor's collection
I have had a scan of this card for many years but just recently bought my own copy. I never noticed the guy with the white hat on the bench before. I left the link huge so you can see him right beside the water mark. That is what the original gazebo looked like. A great angle on Old Vic.

Here is yet another program. This one is ca.1896 and I got it from Sarnia's John Rochon.

A theater troup from ca.1974 testing the spiral staircase at Victoria Hall. Some of the actors in this pic you might recognize from Canadian TV today.



This is an interesting pic that I took on a rainy June 1 morning. The long awaited VPP banner has been hung. This is a very posh advertisment for  the Playhouse that operates out of Victoria Hall. There should be no mistaking where  the VPP is now with this big new banner and the VPP sign all new  for this season. For more on  Victoria Playhouse Petrolia go to their website at   https://www.thevpp.ca/



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                                                                           Bradshaw collection
A Petrolia Band
I think your image " A Petrolia Band"  is actually the 149th Regimental Band or part thereof.  Perhaps there are Petrolia lads in the image, because there were various Companies, labelled as Co. A, B, C, D, etc. that comprised the Regiment.  
Petrolia lads were one of these, Forest lads another, etc.
When up to the LHM sometime, I can share with you our images of the 149th, and officer's notes, etc.
We also have here their Regimental Colours, as originally granted and that travelled with them on parade.
We also have archives going back to the St Clair Regiment, from which the 149th evolved in time for WWI. 
The St. Clair Borderers were formed from militia units at the time of the Fenian scare, 1866, and this  is the true military lineage of the 149th.

As you know, the Lambton lads never fought as a Battalion, but rather it served as a 'feeder' regiment to supply the 80th Bttln. and others……the leaders having learned from the experience of the Nfld. Regiment not to put an entire local regiment at risk because it could devastate a whole province or community if it was lost to gas or other calamity in the trenches
Robert Tremain    

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                                                                               editor's collection
One of the Petrolia Fire Departments 1876
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                                                                                     Bradshaw collection
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                                                                                      Bradshaw collection
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                                                                                      Bradshaw collection
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                                                                                    Bradshaw collection
On stage at Victoria Hall
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                                                                                        editor's collection
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                                                                                    editor's collection
This is the only decent original pic of the 'LaFrance' Pumper. We need to bring it back to Petrolia! More to follow on this issue.

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                                                                                     editor's collection
I have many shots like these but the ones here are
the clearest. Some of the equipment of the period.
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                                                                                      editor's collection
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                                                                                                editor's collection
A great look at the Town's fire fighting equipment  in the early ca.1900s. I left the link pic large for detail.
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                                                                                            editor's collection
The Sarnia Fire Department ca.1900. Until I build a Sarnia page I will post this pic here as a bonus pic with the Petrolia fire stuff. I think this pic is too nice to keep hidden in my Sarnia folder.
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                                                                                      editor's collection
A different view of the left pic.
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                                                                                         editor's collection
The Anderson  House Rig at the fire where the TD bank is today ca 1900
 
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                                                                                       editor's collection
Four Petrolia Firefighters.ca.1890s

John and Josephine Fisher. John is a Petrolia Fireman.

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                                                                                        editor's collection
Another view of the group from,ca.1876
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                                                                                 editor's collection
East end fire hall.  ca.1890s                          

This is the fire truck that Petrolia ordered  from the Bickle Fire Engine Company of Woodstock Ontario ca.1923. Later they used this image of the Petrolia truck and many others across Canada in their catalogue.
This cataogue is now a very nice historical document.


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                                                                                                      editor's collection
Lambton County Council ca.1897

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                                                                                                    editor's collection
A very fast looking rig behind Old Vic

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                                                                                                   editor's collection  
Petrolia Council chambers ca.1890s
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                                                                                                      editor's collection  
Not the best quality but it has the names. I will try to get a better copy.


A nice cabinet photo by Van Norman ca.1890s or earlier of a Petrolia Fireman.
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                                                                                       Pedigrew
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                                                                      Pedigrew

Examples of two thank you notes after these businesses had fires. Both of these sensational items are from a fire chief's scrapbook of the period donated to Petrolia Heritage by Deb Pedigrew.


All of these pics and more are from my own collection and am always looking for pre 1930s Petrolia pics of anything to buy or borrow for copying. If you have pictures that I can borrow I only need a few minutes to scan them. Email Martin  of Petrolia Ontario Canada at martyd@ebtech.net