A south Edmonton landmark is being returned to the site where it made Alberta history.

Seventy years ago, a major crude oil reserve was discovered southwest of Edmonton. Named Leduc #1, the site marked the beginning of an oil-rich economy—and Alberta.

As Jan Becker, executive director of the Energy Discovery Centre, describes it, the Leduc #1 derrick is “the oil rig that made Alberta rich.”

For two decades, a rig at the Energy Discovery Centre near Devon, southwest of Edmonton, has acted as a replica of the piece of equipment.

The real derrick, until Tuesday, stood at the visitor centre in Edmonton’s Gateway Park.

According to Becker, the famous rig ended up in Edmonton after advanced equipment replaced it, and was “saved for memory sake.”

When the City of Edmonton decided in 2014 to close the centre, it began to look for a new home for the derrick.

The Energy Discovery Centre was an eager host.

“We were hoping if it ever came down, [the Energy Discover Centre] would be the recipients so we could put it back near the original location,” Becker explained.

The sale of the derrick to the museum became official in March.

Becker called it “the jewel in the crown” of the museum’s collection.  

The derrick is being dismantled throughout November, with help from industry members. It will eventually be moved to the museum, where it will be restored.

“We’re just elated,” said Daniel Wilfred Claypool, a long-time museum volunteer and former oil patch worker.

“By having it back here on the site ties back into the discovery, which was one of the most important events that happened in Alberta and Canada’s history,” he said.

Earning just $0.90 per hour, Claypool started his 40-year oil career as a roughneck in 1949.

“You didn’t realize you were making history,” he recalled. “It was just a job.”

Today, he believes everyone should know about the history: “The oil and gas industry comes into our life every day because most of the things we use are developed from crude oil and natural gas.”

Becker hopes the derrick will be reassembled by next summer so that the museum can host a big unveiling.

He and Claypool alike believe it will increase interest in the museum and Alberta’s history.

“It already has.”

With files from Nicole Weisberg