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Albert Mayland (1874-1947)

 

Born: Faribault, Minn.

 

A pioneer of the Alberta oil and gas industry, Albert Mayland was instrumental in the development of the oil and gas fields south of Turner Valley and was one of the first independent businessmen to build a vertically integrated operation, from the well to the gas pump.


On the upstream end of the value chain, Albert explored and produced as Mayland Oils, Mercury Oils and Miracle Oils. Downstream, his Gas and Oil Products built a refinery at Hartell, in the south end of the Turner Valley field, in the mid-1930s using hardware imported from Texas. By 1938, the refinery was processing nearly 600 bbls/d, and volume eventually grew to around 2,000 bbls/d.


The refinery supplied his company’s own retail network of more than 700 service stations across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Under the Purity 99 banner, sales grew by 50 per cent between 1938 and 1939 to 3.3 million gallons from 2.2 million gallons. In the depths of the Great Depression, Albert stood as a key job creator across western Canada from the wells to the refinery to the service stations.


Born in Faribault, Minn., (just south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis–Saint Paul) in 1874, Albert was neither an earth scientist nor an engineer but, more descriptively, a deal maker and leader of a highly disciplined, competitive organization. That organization included John James Bowlen, who served as Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor from 1950 to 1959, and Hugh Leiper, who was himself inducted into the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame in 2002.


“He was a guy who loved to do a deal,” says John Ellis, his grandson and the Mayland family historian. “He thrived on it [and] thought it was fun.”


One of five children from a single-parent family, Albert started work as a miner and cowhand at the age of 13, and that work ethic stayed with him for the rest of his life. “He was ambitious. He was lucky, but that doesn’t take away from the reality that he was extremely energetic,” John Ellis says. “He was in there every day, putting out fires, drumming up support and keeping the ship afloat.”


And that ethic extended to the community around him, with support particularly directed at societies that helped youth overcome misfortune: Wood’s Christian Home, Lacombe Home and the Salvation Army all benefited from Albert’s support. By the time he died in 1947 at the age of 72, Albert had become a mainstay of Calgary charities and the Alberta sporting scene. The City of Calgary honoured his legacy by naming a community after him in 1962 and, subsequently, a school in the neighbourhood.


Albert’s Turner Valley wells faded with the rest of the field, and his refinery was eventually replaced by industry consolidation into bigger, more efficient plants. His retail network, however, has lived on as assets with changing names through a series of corporate takeovers: Anglo American Exploration in 1953, British American Oil in 1963, Gulf Canada in 1970, Petro-Canada in 1985 and, finally, Suncor Energy in 2009.

 

   
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