February 13, 1947, was an historic day for Alberta. It was on this day that Vern “Dry Hole” Hunter and Alberta struck oil. The effects from that one oil strike would bring people from all over Canada to work on Leduc #1 and change the economic, political and social climate of Alberta.Born in Nanton, Alberta, Vern Hunter began his career in the oil industry as a junior clerk working for Royalite Oil. In 1927, Hunter had his first roughneck job on the early rotary rigs in the Turner Valley field. By 1940 he had made his way to tool push, in charge of one of the first portable diesel powered rigs in Canada. Vern Hunter, who became known for his lack of success in drilling for oil, earned the nickname "Dry Hole" Hunter.
While working as a tool push for Imperial Oil in mid-November of 1946, Vernon Hunter was ordered to move a rig to a different location, just miles west of Leduc. It was here that the monumental Imperial Leduc No. 1 was spudded and changed the oil industry in Alberta forever. It was Hunter's 134th hole.
On a miserably cold day in February 1947, hundreds of people met in the middle of wind-swept field a few kilometers outside of Leduc. They were there to witness Leduc #1 coming into production. Leduc #1 only yielded about 319,000 barrels of oil, but it remains a powerful symbol and signpost in Alberta's history.
To help tell the continuing story of Alberta's oil and gas industry, the Government of Alberta has provided centennial legacy funding to a number of public interpretive centres and museums. These projects include the Turner Valley Gas Plant Historic Site, the Oil Sands Discovery Centre and the Canadian Petroleum Interpretive Centre Museum at Leduc.