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William H. McGarvey


Canadian oilmen are known the world over and one of the first ambassadors for the Canadian oilpatch was William Henry McGarvey.


Born on November 20, 1843 in Huntingdon, Quebec, William moved to the booming Ontario oil region of Oil Springs and Petrolia in 1860 and formed his own mercantile and oil business.


In 1874, McGarvey and other oilmen took a commission from the Geological Survey of Canada and explored the Swan River Valley near Fort Pelly in eastern Saskatchewan.


Exporation opportunities further afield took him away in 1879 when he moved to Oelheim, Germany to look for oil. McGarvey hired drillers from Ontario and drilled the first big well near Krakow. He also built the first refinery in the area.


In 1882, McGarvey moved his family to Austria, and, upon the marriage of his daughter to Count Von Zeppelin in 1895, he gave the couple a 700 acre estate and castle.


The expanding oil company, Galzische Karpathen-Petroleum Aktien Gesselschaft, eventually made McGarvey one of the world's leading petroleum technologists with more than 2,000 men working in his operations.


Russians set fire to his wells and blew up his refineries in 1914, and on his birthday that year William McGarvey, Canadian foreign driller, suffered a stroke and died.


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