Ron MacDonald was born May 2, 1936 on a family farm northwest of Lloydminster. He had an abrupt introduction to the oil patch when he and his brother Hector were out for a coffee. A friend of Hector’s came in to the coffee shop and asked if either of them would work on a rig that was short men for the night. Ron accepted the offer, thinking that it would an interesting experience for the evening. It was actually the first night of a straight two weeks working a rig during the coldest part of the winter. One of the first duties of a ‘green’ roughneck was to dig a pit that would receive all of the drilling mud. Some of the contents of these pits would be dug out upon completion and the hole would be filled again. Another chore was to cut the wood to heat the doghouse. In February of 1954, Ron was involved in the drilling of Fargo #90, a well that was re-activated on August 12, 2002. Ron hadn’t thought much about those two weeks of drilling until the invitation was extended for him to attend the re-activation. When his son was approached to request his father’s attendance he was sure there must have been some sort of mistake because he was not aware that Ron had ever worked on a rig.
During the two cold weeks working as a roughneck, he often remembered the times he had driven a winch truck with his older brother Hector. He often rode along and even drove the truck at the age of twelve. He remembered the warmth of the winch truck and decided it was more suited to his tastes.
After this initiation to the oil patch Ron drove a winch truck for Tweeten Trucking. He was paid 97 cents per hour and obtained a raise after two weeks to $1.25. All that was required to drive these trucks was a chauffer’s license. Ron drove for a year and a half with out any licence at all. Today a class 1 licence and extensive training is required to drive the same type of truck. He hauled various loads for Tweeten including rigs and piping to and from Edmonton.
In 1957 he took a job with North Star Oil; he would truck for them in the summer and was a manager in the winter. He spent eighteen years doing this. He then accepted a job from Gary Moore trucking wood, cattle, asphalt and other varied loads for Moore Brothers Trucking. He continued this venture for three years.
In the late 1970’s his brother needed a pressure truck driver. He went to work at MacDonald & Sons Trucking, which was later bought by A. B. Ruhl. He had the responsibilities of manager, dispatcher, driver and mechanic for ten years. MacDonald & Sons had oil, water and pressure trucks. After ten years doing this he went to work for Gibson Petroleum as a dispatcher and field supervisor. Gibson hired leased operators and Ron worked as a dispatcher and field supervisor for three years.
Lloydminster Heavy Crude hired Ron as a field supervisor in 1995 and he retired on December 7, 2001. He remains active doing driver evaluations for Heavy Crude Haulers and Lloydminster Heavy Crude.
As is apparent, trucking got into Ron’s blood and he really hasn’t stopped driving. He maintains a farm with llamas, miniature horses and donkeys and often drives trucks when people take vacations or are called away.
Ron remembers the International van that was used to transport the drilling crew. He shared space in the back of the unheated van with a spare motor. It was a very cramped, chilly ride.
Ron recalls that if a well was gassing, the drilling crew would have to wait until it bled off. Now there are trucks to speed the process.
Above: For long distances, drilling rigs were loaded onto the back of a truck but they also had wheels that could be attached so they could be pulled behind. Here the rig is being loaded onto the back of a truck is believed to be the rig that drilled Fargo #90 in 1954.
Above: One of Tweeten Trucking Service Ltd.’s trucks.