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Willoughby Brothers
Oilmen of the Year - 1982

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Above: (left to right) Howard, John and Harry Willoughby
 accept Oilmen of the Year Awards

Above: Harry, Howard and John Willoughby in the 1960's

          When the Husky Refinery was beginning construction in 1946, Howard, John and Harry Willoughby were farming with their father south of Kitscoty.  The brothers had set up a dray business in the previous year which was doing a lot of work hauling supplies for Ray Nelson.  When the refinery arrived, they moved the equipment from the railway to the site by horse and wagon. 

Above: John Willoughby with team of horses used in the dray business in the 1940's.

 Carl Sampson was also involved in this project.  It was not until 1949 that they purchased their first two tank trucks, at the suggestion of Bill Williams. These trucks were used to haul oil from Kitscoty to the refinery.  As many people who were around at that time will recall, the refinery road was always shiny and slick with oil.  Howard remembers that overloads were not a major concern back then and the well oiled road could attest to that.  The brothers operated the business with Howard as president, John as secretary-treasurer and Harry as director and shop foreman.  In 1950 the business acquired two semis and branched out into asphalt.  CN Rail was on strike so there was asphalt to be hauled to the Mundare corner.  This was a makeshift adjustment to their business plan as was apparent by their use of chicken wire and tar paper to insulate the trucks.  This phase of their operations was cut in 1967. 

Above: The first Willoughby Brothers truck was still used in the dray business, here adding extra capacity by pulling a grain wagon. (c. late 1940's)

 The growth of their business corresponded with Husky and that meant many quick expansions.  In 1956 three tankers were bought from Husky and added to their fleet.  Then, in 1961 the Willougbys acquired nine trucks from a principal competitor, Carl Sampson.   

 In 1973 a major change to the Willoughby’s business occurred, as employees started leasing their own trucks.  Howard remembers that the advantage of this was that productivity shot up.

 The Willoughbys sold their fleet to Ray McIlwrick in 1980.  Ray had worked for them in 1972 and they had helped him get started by backing a note to purchase Temor Oil.

Above: The Willoughby Brothers fleet at its peak in the early 1970's.


 The brothers remember that safety standards were less stringent regarding cleaning tanks.  They remember men just walking in to the tanks with very little safety equipment to shovel out the sand.

They remember a few explosions that resulted from such practices as using torches to clean out clogged valves.