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The Thames Valley offered many rich natural resources to the natives and settlers. Timber, fertile soil, abundant fish and wildlife , a moderate climate and the multi use river itself awaited the residents. But strangest resource perhaps by far, was the presence of oil.
The Fairfield Moravians first note in their diary April 29, 1792 the presence of an oil spring on a steep river bank. It flowed on the current for easy gathering. The natives used it as medicine for rheumatism, tooth aches , headaches and healing burns.
Oil is mentioned again, August 23, 1802. Here they note it seeped from the ground, bubbled and spread on the land surface. The oil smell could be noticed a good distance from the source. A hole was dug and the clay removed. The oil bubbled up in the exposed gravel and water. It was scooped up with a feather duster. A quart of oil could be gathered in this manner in three hours.
An easier collection was made in winter (March 18, 1807) when the oil flowed on to the ice on the frozen river. It was valued both by natives and settlers, and used for external and internal ailments.
By Frances Kilbourne, South Caradoc. February 2012
Source:The Moravians in Upper Canada
The Fairfield Diary 1792-1813. Tranaslated by Linda Sabathy-Judd