Cities of Oil: Municipalities and Petroleum Manufacturing in Southern Ontario, 1860-1960

Cities of Oil: Municipalities and Petroleum Manufacturing in Southern Ontario, 1860-1960

Weight 0.00 lbs
By Timothy Cobban
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
184 Pages 3 Images
ISBN 9781442645585
Published Aug 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $67.00    $50.25
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442663145
Published Jan 2014
Online discount: 25%
Full purchase $65.00

Cities of Oil is the first sustained historical account of the development of the early Canadian petroleum refining and manufacturing industry. In it, Timothy W. Cobban documents the industry’s development in southern Ontario, from its beginnings in the 1850s to its later expansion on the outskirts of London, to Petrolia, and finally to Sarnia. He accounts for all of the industry’s important developments and innovations, particularly the role played by municipalities in fostering its growth.

Using extensive archival research, Cobban concludes that municipalities can stimulate the accelerated, sustained development of local industry sectors, thus challenging the dominant view that the influence of municipalities on economic growth is marginal. Cities of Oil demonstrates the importance of accommodating the land and infrastructure needs of industry at critical junctures, and implementing land use policies that encourage the dense clustering of industries. This book will be essential reading for those seeking a greater understanding of industrial growth in the province of Ontario.

Timothy W. Cobban is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Western University.

List of Tables

List of Illustrations


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: London East: 1860–1883

Chapter 3: Petrolia: 1883–1899

Chapter 4: Sarnia: 1899–1960

Chapter 5: Conclusion


“The southwestern Ontario petroleum industry of the mid-nineteenth century through to the mid-twentieth century was a key driver of that area’s economy and an important element of the broader story of the Canadian petroleum industry. Cities of Oil provides an interesting history on this topic, recognizing the emergence of the early sector in Ontario long before the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Atlantic fields became so much more prominent in the Canadian oil industry. The book adds to our understanding of early technological processes surrounding crude refining, the important role of transportation networks and geographic proximity to the development of a nascent refining industry, and the significance of entrepreneurship and business consolidation in this sector of the economy.”

Dimitry Anastakis, Department of History, Trent University

“This well researched book adds to our understanding of the role that local governments have played in Canada’s industry development.”

Matthew Bellamy, Department of History, Carleton University

Cobban delivers a well-researched, concise narrative of the history and politics behind the [oil] sector’s regional growth, which began in the 1860s, long before the discoveries in Western Canada.  

Deborah Morrison, Canada's History