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Leduc creates 50 prosperous years

One spewing geyser of oil at Leduc, Alta., on Feb. 13, 1947, transformed the province's economy. Until the oil strike Alberta struggled as a have-not province. Leduc "blowing in" was famous and rare because Albertans had never imagined large oil reserves existed beneath the wheat. But ownership of the resource challenged by the national energy program became a political battle: East versus West, Trudeau versus Lougheed. Today, the Leduc legacy lives on with Alberta paying off its debt in 2000 and countless barrels of crude yet to be extracted.

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Feb. 13, 1997 marks half a century since oil was discovered below the plains of Leduc, Alta. The famous strike opened the eyes of prospectors to the notion that large oil reserves could exist below the Prairies. Years of lucrative oil extraction followed, spurring Western industrialization and settlement. One spewing geyser at Leduc in 1947 saved Alberta's economy from stagnation after the Second World War. Alberta had struggled as a have-not province until the find.

The rest of Canada can also be thankful for Leduc. At anniversary celebrations, Federal Minister of Natural Resources Anne McLellan says, "What would Ontario's manufacturing industry look like today if Leduc Number One had been a dry hole?"
. Canada is the world's third largest producer of natural gas and the 13th in crude oil production. Oil and gas make up half the country's exports.
. In 2002, Canada's oil industry was worth $42 billion annually and employed at least 525,000 people.
. In 2000, Alberta's oil investments topped $23 billion - over 200 times the amount spent in 1946 before the Leduc strike.

. Alberta's Athabasca oil sand deposit is Canada largest source of oil. By 1995, the sands had already produced a billion barrels of oil. The reserves are estimated to hold at least 1.7 trillion barrels.
. In 2000, the development of Alberta oil, especially at the Athabasca sands, helped the provincial government eliminate its net debt, set income tax at a flat rate of 10 per cent and do away with provincial sales tax.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 13, 1997
Guest(s): Pat Black, Jim Dinning, Denise Young
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Kelly Crowe
Duration: 2:12

Last updated: March 8, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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