(We spoke to Carl’s son Wayne and his wife Florence)
Carl Sampson was born on November 9, 1906 in Peterborough, Ontario. He came west with his family and attended school in Altario, Alberta. In 1930, drought turned that area into a dust bowl so they left their farm and home and moved to Northern Alberta. They settled at Canyon Brook near Lesser Slave Lake where Carl worked for a lumber company.
He moved to Vermillion and bought a truck in 1937 to haul grain and livestock. He set up a beef ring there with other producers and ran the common meat locker. While living in Vermillion he also hunted coyotes. This proved to be profitable because, on top of the bounty he received, he could sell the skins. He met Harvey Bevens in 1942. Harvey persuaded Carl to go to Borradaile where Franco Oils was building a refinery. There was the promise of steady work that would pay better than his current job. Carl hired one other man to help him and, with one truck carrying a 35-barrell tank, they hauled 40 to 50 loads per day. It was wintertime when Carl started in the oilfield. Heavy black crude was being pumped into pits because there were no tanks to hold it. These pits were the same ones that received the drilling mud. Carl pumped the oil from these pits into tank trucks and hauled it to the refinery for 7 or 8 cents per barrel. It would take hours to load a truck because the oil was extremely thick and cold. During the spring break up, the oil patch was full of new trials. The only roads to the wells were rutted trails. The trucks often had to be pulled out by winch when they were stuck in the mud up to their axles. Broken axles were a regular occurrence.
During World War II, oil companies began drilling more wells because the war effort needed Bunker C fuel to run the railroads. Carl was one of the few people able to buy trucks at this time because his service was considered essential to the war effort. He obtained one truck in 1943 and then a second in 1944. The trucks arrived in army colours and remained that way until the end of the war.
Carl met and married Florence Emily Young in 1945. They lived at Borradaile for a year and then moved to Lloydminster where their son Wayne was born in 1948. Carl hired his brother-in-law Harold Young to oversee the Borradaile field. Oil fields were being drilled in the Lloydminster and Lone Rock area so Carl bought a few semi-trailer trucks to haul from those points to Borradaile and formed Sampson’s Transport.
In 1946 Husky Oil of Cody, Wyoming began the task of dismantling their Riverton refinery and shipping it north to Lloydminster by rail. Sampson’s Transport worked hauling the parts from the railway to the refinery’s present site. Frank Young was in charge of this project. The refinery opened in 1947 and Carl Sampson received the honour of unloading the first truck load of oil into the pit.
Hauling oil was a very messy job. Earlier tank models did not include a spout to unload the oil. Instead the truckers would carry one around with them from site to site. Aubrey McGuinness found a new enterprise through the oil haulers. He was a local steam engineer and could clean the saturated coveralls. Florence recalls that Aubrey McGuinness did a very good job of cleaning the coveralls. They would be given to him saturated with oil and hardened and he would return them spotless.
By the early fifties Sampson’s Transport had twenty semi’s in the oilfield hauling from the wells to the refinery and from the refinery to the various road building companies. They operated for twenty years.
Carl and his family built the Thunderbird Best Western motel in 1959. It was situated on the corner of 44th Street and 56th Avenue across from the Weir’s veterinary clinic. They operated this business successfully for twenty-one years. It was sold to Dr. Ridgeway of Edmonton in 1980. The family also bought land five miles south of Lloydminster where they raise Polled Herefords. Wayne, Lucy and their sons Mark and Richard still operate this ranch.
One of Carl’s greatest joys later in life was speaking with other pioneers of the oil patch and sharing stories about the first days of its appearance in Lloydminster.
Florence recalls that when it comes to the refinery, Bill Williams and Shorty Willard are two names that have to be mentioned.
Florence recalls that Lloydminster was kind of a sleepy town until oil came along.
In the area around 46th Street and 47th Avenue there was an area known as “Whiskey Row.” Little homes (shacks) went up overnight. One could go to sleep and in the morning there would be more.
Everything was new for people when it came to oil. There was a bit of money in it—it was ready cash, which was a change for people.
There were no heaters in the tanks so sometimes Carl would start a tank flowing into his truck, have his lunch and come back when it was finished.
Carl’s first spring break-up was full of new trials. The trucks would often get stuck in the mud up to their axles and have to be pulled out by winch.
Click on these thumbnails for enlarged view of photo
Many local truckers responded with loads of water to an oil well fire in April of 1948.
Sampson’s first tanker truck at the Borradaile refinery in 1942
Borradaile refinery and town in background
Sampson’s truck fleet with Gary Young in foreground
Sampson’s truck yard on the corner of 44th Street and 50th Avenue photographed sometime in the late 1940’s. Pictured are: Wayne (sitting on truck) Carl and third person on right hand side is thought to be Ernie Deleeuw.