Posted by: Silver | October 31, 2011

Exeter to Petrolia

Exeter to Watford:
Distance: 71 km
Ascent: 217 m
Cycling time: 4 hours, 12 minutes

Watford to Petrolia:
Distance: 41 km
Ascent: 120 m
Cycling time: 2 hours, 19 minutes

After so much time passing through places with borrowed names (my route from Exeter took me through Crediton, Ailsa Craig, Nairn, and Warwick (yes, actually pronounced War-wick over here…) as well), it was interesting to finally visit a town whose name actually spoke of a sense of place. Because Petrolia, as you’ve no doubt already guessed, lies in rich fields of turnips…

Oh, alright then, no: it lies – or at least lay – in rich fields of oil. In fact, long before Alberta became the oil capital of Canada, this area was the site of the country’s first black gold rush. Much of the oil has now gone, of course, but the history remains: in the grand old houses built by the original oil barons, in the stained glass window in the Anglican church that celebrates the riches of the surrounding earth, and in the independent nature of the town, bequeathed by generations of strong women who kept home and hearth together while their husbands spent many years away, teaching people as far away as Australia and the Gobi Desert how to pump oil.

And strong women were much in evidence during my visit to Petrolia too: my host took me to a ‘goddess party’ on my very first night in town! As a typically reserved – did someone say inhibited?! – Brit, I wasn’t at all sure what I was letting myself in for, but the lovely bunch of ladies – sorry, Goddesses – at the gathering made me feel very welcome and accepted, and much fun was had by all. 🙂 I even got to sing! That normally only happens when I’m on the trike these days… Although having said that, thanks to all the Rotary meetings I’ve been attending to give presentations about SOS Children’s Villages, I can now do a pretty good rendition of the Canadian national anthem too: I’ll be a true Canadian before you know it, eh?! 😉

The ride from Exeter to Watford was archetypically autumn-misty: it might not look like much in the photo, but it was truly beautiful to cycle through

Possibly the grandest of the grand old houses in Petrolia

The oil window in Petrolia Anglican church: worth clicking on to see it in more detail!

There really are squirrels all over the place at the moment, but outside Exeter, black is definitely the most common colour



  1. Hey Silver that top photo looks like it could be taken anywhere between Cambridge and Ely! Bleak + big sky!

  2. Hi Helen,
    Yes, just like the place names, the scenery has been looking quite familiar just lately too!

  3. It was great to meet you with other Chatham Lions in Chatham last evening and listen to your passionate talk about SOS Villages. I have just reviewed your last few blogs and enjoyed the account and photos of your journey into southwestern Ontario. I have been to most of the towns you described but you have opened my eyes to more than I saw when I passed through by car. (Our youngest daughter was born in Petrolia). Thank you for this travellogue and for your mission with SOS Villages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: