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Howard Cayford
Oilman of the Year - 1997

Original article by Leanne Herter Lloydminster Meridian Booster

howiecayford.jpg (17222 bytes)

If it weren't for his sister, Howie Cayford might never have become involved in the oil industry. As any good brother would, Cayford was driving his sister back to college in the spring of 1956 when he met the Jorstad family she was rooming and boarding with.

It was Otto Jorstad who gave Cayford his start in the industry. He needed someone to deliver a tank truck to Estevan and Cayford said he would do it. But accepting the job meant leaving the family farm in the Marsden district he had worked on for one year after high school. "My dad wasn't too happy about it," said Cayford. "And I was going to come back, but it never happened."

Once he delivered the truck to Estevan, Cayford stayed there driving for R. E. Line Trucking. In December of that year, Cayford married his wife Betty and the couple moved to Frobisher, SK.

Cayford gained valued experience working many jobs in the industry. In January, 1957, he began working for Imperial Oil as a battery operation. Later that fall he was transferred to Drayton Valley where he spent almost three years in camp operations at Lodgepole and Buck Creek as battery operator and maintenance supervisor.

In 1960, Cayford quit Imperial Oil and moved his wife and four children to Barrhead where he worked in the bush in the new boomtown of Swan Hills. This was the toughest time during Cayford's career and was pioneering in the truest sense of the word. "It was remote, it was tough," said Cayford. "You had to be there to believe it. There was no road." It took 24 hours to travel 70 miles because the conditions were so rough with only forestry roads to travel on. In the summer, the government placed Caterpillar machines along the road to pull trucks through the rough roads.

It was in Swan Hills that Cayford began his company, Howie's Production Services Ltd. where he carried out contract production operations and rig supervision for many companies including Imperial Oil, and Sinclair Oils.

Cayford continued his business in Swan Hills for almost seven years. Then in June, 1966, Cayford moved to Lloydminster with Husky Oil and took up his new post as production foreman. In October, 1969, he was promoted to field superintendent and transferred to Kindersley.

In November, 1970, Cayford's career took another turn when he quit Husky and returned to Lloydminster to become co-owner with C. P. Ross and Jack Ross in Border Drilling Co. Ltd. He worked there for 14 years as operations manager until 1984 when be sold his interest.

That same year with his brother Bill, he started Cayford Holdings Ltd., a diversified service company and in 1990, the brothers sold off their assets in Cayford Holdings Ltd. including the sale of the hydraulics division to BMW Monarch. Since then, Cayford has returned to self-employment

In addition to his many years in the industry, Cayford also became involved in baseball, curling and played everywhere from North Dakota to Grande Prairie and later coached a junior boys' team in the Saskatchewan Summer Games in 1978.

Cayford has no regrets, nor should he. Despite moving his family from place to place and his many jobs over the years, if he had the chance to do it all over again, he would.

"I had a great time, really. You meet so many people," he said. "I worked with hundreds of people and played with hundreds of people.  I made some really, really good friends."