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George Cormack


Born at Pennant, Saskatchewan in 1915, George was the youngest of eight children. He left school in the mid-1930s to trap in the North with his older brother, Bill. "Wolverines" is what the Fort Simpson natives called George and his older brother Bill after their three years of trapping. So deep was the impression they made on the people of the North that today's maps include a Cormack Lake, northeast of the old fur trade settlement.


In 1937, George landed a job at Norman Wells with Imperial Oil. Rotary rigs were common in the oilpatch in southern Alberta by the late 1930s, but Imperial's operations on the banks of the Mackenzie River was still using an old cable-tool rig. Dressing the tools meant hard, hot work for two men-one was George-swinging heavy hammers at the large, red-hot steel bits.


By 1946, George was working as a cathead man on Leduc No. 1 and, in 1947, just after the discovery of oil at that famous well, he was off to South America with Shell. Wisely, he learned Spanish before heading out to the field, where he managed seven rigs and 80 men at the Casabe Camp on the Magdalena River in Colombia.


The early 1950s found him back in Alberta, and, after going through Shell's drilling school in Houston in 1955, he became the company's first Canadian to hold the position of area drilling superintendent.


When George retired from Shell in 1976 the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors awarded him an honorary membership, a great commendation for one of western Canada's great drillers. It is written about George that he was a "true pioneer in the drilling industry and in the art of leadership".


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