Official Website of the 1908 Lambton Ambulance

Charles Fairbank

Mr. C. Fairbank of Oil Springs leads the new horse into Victoria Park in Petrolia on the horse's first public display. The horse has yet to be named although we've had several good suggestions.

We are looking for original light harness to help complete our display.


Sept 12 2009 Petrolia

This is the original ambulance used in the oil town of Petrolia, Ontario.  It was built in February 1908 by the Petrolia Wagon Works Company and was used until it was replaced with a motorized ambulance about 1919.  It is owned by the County of Lambton and can be seen on display during the Lambton Heritage Museum's regular hours of operation.  In 2008-09 the Paramedics of Lambton County EMS raised funds to give the one hundred year old ambulance the restoration that it deserved. The siding on the ambulance had suffered from damage by the weather as a result of improper storage years before the museum acquired it.  Preservation of this ambulance has now ensured that the citizens of Ontario and all of Canada will be able to see how the sick and injured were brought to hospital so many years ago.

Petrolia Ambulance 1908

The ambulance was originally commissioned by the Town of Petrolia and was used to bring the sick and injured to the hospital.  It was kept with the fire apparatus at Victoria Hall.  The men working in the oil industry surrounding Petrolia were particularly vulnerable to injury in such a dangerous occupation. The ambulance was needed to go out into the oil fields around town to retrieve injured workers and transport them in relative comfort. We have been told that the driver in the photo may be a gentleman named Henry Gillespie.

Ambulance in Petrolia Parade

This is the second of only two historical photographs that we have. This photo is from a Dominion Day parade. If you look closely you can see the red cross armbands on the fellows walking behind the ambulance. It is believed that these young men are members of the Petrolia Militia.

-See the original Photo-

Les Whiting Petrolia Town Crier

Petrolia Town Crier Les Whiting

Fundraising Highlights

Fundraising efforts began in the summer of 2008 with the Lambton EMS Paramedics making committments to payroll deduction and one time donations.  We received many donations in 2009-2011 from private individuals and corporate sponsors.  Donations that really raised the bar on the quality of the work that we would be able to do came from the Paul Patterson Memorial Fund and the Association of Municipal Emergency Medical Services of Ontario.

Paul Patterson was killed in the line of duty in 2007 while working as a Paramedic with Chatham-Kent EMS. Paul was also a dedicated member of the Lambton EMS team.

The Paramedics of Lambton County EMS have dedicated the 2009 restoration of this ambulance to the memory of Paul Patterson.

Restoration Photographs

You can see detailed photographs of the actual restoration that took place from May-September 2009 at Shadow River Boatworks in Grand Bend, ON. Boat designer and builder Skip Izon was the craftsman responsible to ensure that the techniques and materials used in 1908 were duplicated in 2009. We used 3/8" basswood siding just as it done originally. Epoxy was used in place of hide glue and stainless steel woodscrews replaced the rusty steel originals.

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 Congratulations on a wonderful project of restoration, your Lambton county treasure. All the best, 

T. Bates Curator, History of Canadian Home Life, Costume and Textiles

Canadian Museum of Civilization

Gatineau, Quebec

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See and Hear the Bell

Museum Art Fundraiser Project

    The Reliable to the Rescue 1874 Amoskeag

Click on the Ambulance or Fire Pumper for ordering information.

Both the 1908 Ambulance and the 1874 Amoskeag were operated by the Petrolia Fire Department. They were parked beside each other in Victoria Hall until the ambulance was retired in 1919. The Amoskeag was sold in 1960 for $1000 and again by auction in 1996. Currently we are trying to locate the fire pumper through the auction house that sold it. It was known as Phoenix 2 when it was operated by the City of  London, Ontario Fire Department.

Sept 12-2009 Petrolia Parade Photos

Sept 2010 AMEMSO in Gravenhurst Photos

Please pass along my admiration and gratitude to all of your colleagues who brought this about. I was delighted too to see it on display for so many to be inspired by your efforts and perhaps to realise the importance of remembering our heritage and those who went before us.

With every good wish from Nova Scotia,

Dr. Ronald Stewart

(Nova Scotia's Minister of Health from 1993 to 1996-Pioneer for Paramedic Profession, Education and Standards and Medical Director of Emergency! TV Program)

Have you ever wondered what the lift height was into the back of an ambulance a hundred years ago? You might be surprised!

We're pretty confident of the age of the ambulance as we found this on the back of one of the original pieces of siding.

Contact Us

On behalf of the Lambton Heritage Museum and the Paramedics of Lambton EMS, thanks for visiting our joint site.

Ontario Ambulance #0001 was on display at the Metro Toronto EMS HQ on Dufferin St. in Toronto from Feb-May 2011.

Metro Toronto EMS