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Donald Franklin Hunter

 

Few people, if anyone, have more Alberta oil running through their veins than Donald Franklin Hunter. The reader may recognize his name from a previous inductee to the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame, Vernon "Dry Hole" Hunter. Don was right there near Leduc, Alta., where one would now find the town of Devon, Alta., when his father struck oil for Imperial Oil at the iconic Leduc No. 1 discovery well. Don was only 11 years old at the time, and the discovery marked the end of a childhood living out of travelling skid shacks.


His life in the oil industry and in Leduc, however, was far from over. Don would go on to have an impressive career in the industry in his own right, and in his retirement became a leader at the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre.


According to Don's friend and nominator Don Taylor, Don went to 18 different schools before high school, travelling across western Canada as his father drilled dry hole after dry hole before making that historic discovery at Leduc No. 1. Don learned a lot from his father through those years in the field, and according to an article on righands.com, he knew by the time he was 15 that his future was in the same industry. Don attended the University of Alberta and graduated in 1959 with a B.Sc. degree in petroleum engineering. After all those years of dry holes and skid shacks, Hunter recalled in the Devon Dispatch, he remembered "as a 16-year-old kid driving by Nisku and Leduc and Devon and Calmar and seeing all the rigs and the flares and thinking, 'Boy, that's a beautiful sight.'"


Don then worked for Imperial Oil for a number of years, zigzagging across western Canada as he worked in southeastern Saskatchewan, Regina, Norman Wells and Cold Lake.


In 1968, Don co-founded a company with his father and his dad's long-time friend Lou Pajak, called V.H. Hunter and Associates, Oil Well Consultant Ltd. After the company dissolved, Don became a founding partner of Resman Oil and Gas Ltd., where he worked until his retirement as vice-president in 1996. After 45 years working in the industry, however, it has probably been in retirement that Don has made his biggest contributions.


"He became absolutely committed to the development, maintenance and growth of the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre," wrote Mel Gray, nominating Don. He has served as president of the Discovery Centre and is currently the acting executive director. Don has given many thousands of hours to volunteering at the centre and has been ready to step in with financial support whenever the centre has needed it.


The centre, a museum celebrating the Leduc No. 1 discovery and the western Canadian oil industry as a whole, is "the largest of its kind in Canada and one of the largest in the world," wrote Gray. It has an old-fashioned cable-tool drilling rig, a service rig, two more modern rigs and piles of information. In addition to boardrooms, a theatre and a 160-person capacity hall, the centre has classrooms available for rental and is committed to education.


"They do a good job of teaching schoolchildren," says Taylor, citing field trips coming through on a regular basis throughout the year.


"He has never moved to glorify his presence or his contributions," wrote Gray, but Don has made the centre "a national place of orientation to the oil and gas sector."

 

   
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