Involvement in the Oil Industry
In 1935, Frank started work with the Colony Oil and Gas Company on the cabletool drilling rig. He worked for over a year as a tooldresser (roughneck) for 50 cents an hour - $4.00 per day. He worked with Clarence "Bull" Morrison, Bert Dempster, Jack Messenger (who was the driller) and George McIvor. He was involved in drilling on Fox’s, Foot’s and Morrison’s land. He recalls that when the well came in on Fox’s land, you could hear it for eight miles. Fox’s was located ¼ mile south of the Legion Ball Park. The water used for Colony No.1 was piped over from Fox’s yard using a little engine.
Frank commented that unless you used cabletool, you had to do the work by hand. These wells had cellars 20 feet deep which were dug by hand. Wells no longer have these cellars. When he went to work, he didn’t know what a winch truck was. They worked with a block and tackle and a crowbar. He recalls that there were only two companies in town at that time.
Russell Shaw, Slim Thorpe and Frank’s father, Jack, were three of the company’s directors. Frank bought shares in Colony Oil & Gas when he worked for them. The shares were later converted to Lloydminster Gas Company shares when that company bought out Colony Oil and Gas. Finally, the Lloydminster Gas Company shares were sold to Northwestern Utilities.
Frank’s next involvement in the oil industry came in ‘50-‘51 when he went to work as a welder for Russell Shaw at Shaw Petroleum. He worked with Bill Nidish and Alec Ruhl. He then worked with Husky
He remembers a man by the name of Bill Scutchings who used to build wooden derricks. Frank recalls that it took a month to six weeks to set up a wooden derrick.
He remembers his father telling him about the Marrens, who lived south of town, getting gas out of their water well. He believes they may have run an engine off the gas from the well. There were other water wells also that had gas.
He remembers when Husky had eight rigs and their own welding shop. A number of people started their own businesses when Husky decided to sell the rigs and equipment with the arrangement that people could work oft the cost of the equipment..
Frank recalls that Charlie Mills had the first rotary rig in this area. He used two V8 motors to run the rig.
They didn’t have pressure trucks like they do now. They would just mix up the cement, pour it down the hole and hope it went up around the pipe. Then they drilled it out and went on from there. They weren't too concerned about what went on underneath.
He remembers when drilling took place 24 hours a day, everyday. In those days, there was no overtime. There was a four foot by six foot place built into the bottom of the rig where you could store things. If you needed to dry your clothes, you could go into the boiler room.