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Charles Nelson Tripp


The Tripp brothers - Henry who lived in Woodstock and Charles Nelson, foreman of a stove foundry in Bath - established the world's first incorporated oil company in an unsuccessful attempt to develop production from this bitumen deposit.


In 1852, they set out with high hopes to develop these bituminous deposits. They erected buildings and machinery for the manufacture of asphalt. That year they petitioned the Legislative Council of Canada for incorporation of a company but did not obtain a charter until December 18, 1854, after they had re-submitted their petition several times. They may have been attracted by Hunt's report, or perhaps by a friendly word of advice from Alexander Murray, who farmed near Woodstock and worked part time as a geologist for the Geological Survey.


When Murray conducted a field study of the gum beds the year after Hunt's report was published, he found that the Tripps had probably preceeded him to the site. Describing the west gum bed as a deposit "of nearly pure bitumen" covering half an acre with a maximum thickness of two feet, Murray said it was "underlaid by a very white clay, which I was informed had been bored through in one part for thirty feet."


Unsuccessful though it was, this represented the first known attempt to drill for oil in North America, nearly a decade before the completion of the Drake Well.


Career Summary:

  • 1850 Discovery of Enniskillen "gum beds".
  • 1852 Began setting up operations to produce asphalt.
  • 1854 Received charter and established the International Mining and Manufacturing Company - first incorporated oil company in North America.
  • 1855 Received honorable mention for asphalt sample sent to the Universal Exhibition in Paris.


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