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.
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.