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Joyce Neary


Joyce Neary was born in Calgary and moved with her family to Coronation at the age of one. They lived there one year and were preparing to move back to Calgary when her father fell and broke his hip. This was at the beginning of the Depression and it was a great struggle for her parents to raise four children.


The family moved to Edmonton in 1941 and Joyce quit school in Grade 12 to take a comptometer course. Joyce started full time work in 1945, and other than yearly vacations worked every day until she called a halt in 1990.


After gaining experience at various jobs, mostly related to bookkeeping, Joyce went to work for a small drilling company, Stewart Drilling Co. Ltd., in January 1951. And so began her career in the Alberta oil patch. Boyd Stewart worked in the early days of Turner Valley when cable tool rigs punched holes in the ground. He returned to Montana and developed a little production company of his own and acquired a small rotary drilling rig. He was just finishing his first Canadian well when Joyce went to work for him. That first well was drilled at Boyle, about one hundred miles north and east of Edmonton, in brutal winter conditions.


After that first well at Boyle, Stewart Drilling worked for Texaco in Redwater, Bonnie Glen and Wizard Lake. They drilled the discovery well and burned the rig down at Wizard Lake. By the time Joyce had typed the rig inventory a jillion times (no photocopy machines in those days) she thought she was an expert on the components of a rotary drilling rig.


Joyce had seven glorious years with Stewart Drilling during which she took correspondence courses in bookkeeping and learned a lot by trial and error about running an office and a business. But finally the bubble burst. Texaco had no more work for them and Boyd decided to sell the rig and retire to his ranch in Montana. Delbert Lewis, Sr. sought Joyce out almost immediately and she went to work for Lory Oilfield Rentals Ltd. in January 1957.


Lory had been operating for about a year, the first oilfield rental company in Canada. When Joyce joined Lory, they were using price books and rental agreement forms copied from U.S. rental companies. Over the years, Joyce cut and pasted on these to accommodate the compant's requirements. In the first few months after Joyce went to Lory, they had almost a complete change of staff. They all learned together. And the men were most patient with Joyce - from the beginning she hung around the shop and asked questions. If she was to spend a great part of her day typing invoices, she wanted to know what she was selling. After a few years, she was able to take orders for equipment - if the customer would talk to her! Joyce ran into many who insisted on talking to "someone". It took a lot of perserverance and diplomacy to get through to the customers that Joyce was quite qualified to take their orders.


But as Joyce's knowledge grew, her reputation grew. It did take some time, but the customers were, at last, convinced she knew the equipment and could help them with their rental needs.


Joyce also became a charter member of the Desk & Derrick Club of Edmonton. She attended the inaugural meeting in April 1951, served as club president twice and has held every position at the local level. She has also held many positions at the regional and association level. Joyce still serves as club auditor.


Career Summary:

  • 1951 Hired by Stewart Drilling Co. Ltd.
  • 1951 Inaugural meeting of Desk and Derrick Club of Edmonton.
  • 1955 President - Desk and Derrick Club.
  • 1957 Started work for Lory Oilfield Rentals Ltd.
  • 1971 President (2nd Term) - Desk and Derrick Club.
  • 1987 Canadian Oilwoman of the Year


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