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Glenn E. Nielson


Glenn E. Nielson founded Husky Oil, one of Canada's most successful integrated oil and gas companies. He created, sustained, and grew a viable company under some of the least favourable economic conditions this country has known. His thriftiness and his ability to remember each employee's name left a mark on the company.


Born in Aetna, Alberta, in 1903, Nielson studied at Raymond Agriculture College before graduating from the University of Alberta. He made his living off farming and ranching until 1934 when he decided to make a radical change and join a small oil refinery in Cutbank, Montana. Working as a salesman, he discovered that his talent lay in sales. The test of his business acumen came two years later when he left the refinery to found his own company, Husky Oil.


Through the Depression years, Nielson's economical spending and tight management allowed Husky to not only survive as an enterprise but to thrive. The company's big break came during the war years when it became a reliable supplier of bunker fuel.


Nielson established the company in Alberta and Saskatchewan as a leading producer of heavy oil. The company's downstream business grew before its upstream side with Husky gas stations, recognizable by their huge Canadian flags, becoming a fixture of highways across Canada.


Nielson served as president of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association and director of the American Petroleum Institute. In 1989, Nielson was named Honourary Oilman in Saskatchewan. As nominator Bob Blair, who took over the helm of Husky from Nielson, writes, "Nielson ran Husky Oil with a strong hand for 40 years. Thrifty by necessity at first and then by choice, he stayed close to his company's people and his business."


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