Dominion Government Coal Test Site #1

Roche Percee, Saskatchewan, Canada

Dominion Government Coal Test Site #1 10 miles East of Roche Percee Exact location unknown Section 10 or 11, Township 2, Range 5, W2

In the Souris River Valley, 6 1/4 miles east of Roche Percee
(not sure where this measurement came from, as clear in article above it was 10 mi?)

Aug, 1880, Driller William Henry McGarvey starts work, under Professor Alfred R. C. Selwyn's supervision from Montreal, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada,
This was the First Test Drill Site, looking for coal in this area, for commercial use.

Drill was sunk 362 feet, and they struck a 6 1/2 ft seam of better quality coal, than at Sutherland's mine at Roche Percee.
My dad actually owned Section 10 here, which very well could have been the location.
There was a ford across the river there, just downstream of the CPR dam, which wouldn't have been there in 1880.

Selwyn's report states McGarvey and Highman were the contractors, from Petrolia ON., Only Highman I can find was a John Highman, but 1881 census says he was a bricklayer, not an oil driller.
Selwyn states July 12, 1880 the drilling started at this first bore site. July 8, 1880 they started work by sinking a pit about 10 feet deep.
starting boring July 12th, they drilled 295 feet deep. about 575 ft below the plain surface at St. Peter's Spring. 1610 ft above sea level.

William Henry McGarvey
b- Nov 20, 1843 in Huntingdon, Quebec
d- Nov 20, 1914 in Vienna Austria
He was a merchant, and owned oil wells in Petrolia ON
Member of the First Village Council- Reeve of Petrolia
Appointed warden of Lampton County Jan 28, 1879.
shown as an oil producer, resigned as Reeve, Mar 5, 1867
remained on the Council years later.

Father- Edward McGarvey of Wyoming ON,
General Dealer in Petrolia, ca 1871

His father had a grocery store there, which William helped establish.
He caught the oil fever, but at first had little luck.
He was part owner of the famous Deluge Well of 1873, which spouted 600 barrels a day.
He became owner of a refinery in partnership with a Mr. Woodward.
William had a couple brothers that went to Europe as well.
Albert and James McGarvey.
His 2 brothers went to Germany, and later to take charge of oil fields in the Caucasus. There one day at the dinner table, James was shot dead, by one of his own men.
He became a famous Oil Well Driller, here in Canada and in Europe. In 1874 he came to Eastern SK looking for oil.
This was his first connection with the Geological Survey of Canada
One book says in 1879 he moved to Oelheim Germany, then in 1882 to Austria.
He was in SE Sask in Aug 1880, so doubt if those dates are 100%

He was to have formed a partnership with a Mr. Burgheim, who in a newspaper article is reported to be “a Jew”, from London, England.
Burgheim supplied a great deal of the capital.
It says they formed an association and in 1879 (same date?) he went to Oelheim near Hanover in Germany, taking his own drillers with him from Petrolia.
He managed this field for 6 or 7 years, but did not get oil in paying quantities.
then is says in autumn of 1882, he sent a rig and four men to Uherea in Galicia. This is where he made his millions.

found another article Feb 1880, which stated he was in meetings with Grand Trunk Railway and the Erie and Huron Railway, with the Mayor of Petrolia, and other members of a committee.
So he was in Canada at this time.

Nickname “Petroleum King of Austria”
He married July 10, 1867 in Mount Clemens to Helena Jane Wesolowski, (Wislowski?)
b- 1845
d- abt 1898
her family had been driven out by the Russian Government

son- Fred McGarvey
b- 1873

One of his sons died in Petrolia, so he had at least 2.
the other son married a niece of Bergheims

2 daughters,
Nellie (Kate) McGarvey
b-1869 in Petrolia, ON

and Mamie Helena (May) McGarvey
b- July 6, 1876
In 1885 Mamie married
Count Eberhard Friedrich Alexander Joseph Edward Graf Von Zeppelin, making Marnie a countess,
the nephew of Ferdinand Graf Von Zeppelin, of airship fame.
William and Helena gave them a 700 acre estate and castle, worth a fortune in those days. They divorced in 1906,
Nellie (Kate) married a Galician judge, she died in 1962 in Austria
William and Helena had a castle in Galicia

He later married an English lady whom he met in Vienna after his first wife died.
He lived in Maryanpole galicia, where his head office and refineries were.

WWI caused tragedy to his refinery, and his home town, and he hastily moved to Vienna to escape the war zon, and this hastened his death in 1916.

Burgheim had been killed in an automobile accident in England in 1912.
He formed the Company- Galizishe-Karpathen Petroleum Aktien Gesellschaft
At this time he possibly could have been the wealthiest man in the world.
He had oil wells, refineries, everything.
He is in the Petroleum Hall of Fame.
Here he was drilling at the Souris River, near Roche Percee.

Dr. Alfred Richard Cecil Selwyn
b- July 26, 1824 in Kilmington Somerset, UK
d- Oct 19, 1902 in Vancouver BC
Alfred was a British Geologist, director of the Geological Survey of Victoria from 1852–1869
director of Geological Survey of Canada 1869–1894, and President of the Royal Society of Canada 1895-1896


  • Last modified: 2017/10/21 11:37
  • by dlgent