Artifact Title: Oil Relics

Medium: Oil Relics

Year: 20th century- Present

Image Credit: Judith Ellen Brunton

TERA Curator: Judith Ellen Brunton

Oil Relics

These are three items available for purchase in Alberta, a Canadian province with oil extraction as a central industry. The items are sold as souvenirs, scientific specimens, and relics seemingly infused with the good fortune of the oil discovery that created them. The first item is a small envelope with a plastic bag pasted inside holding samples of bitumen, or oil sand. The front of the envelope has a picture of an oil slick and reads “A little bit of the Alberta Oil Sands.” I purchased it at the Oil Sands Discovery Center at Fort McMurrary. The second item is a little vial of conventional oil extracted from the Leduc-Woodbend Oilfield and sold at the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Center (now called the Canadian Energy Museum). The final item, at the top of the image, is a glass container in a car shape, holding conventional oil. On its side it reads: “Oil. Alberta.” It was purchased at a thrift shop in Invermere, British Columbia and gifted to me. Together these items point to an interesting practice of selling small amounts of oil as a souvenir of Alberta, as a curiosity, and for luck.