Historic Sites of Manitoba: Trump Oil Refinery (Trump, RM of Morris)
Through the 1920s, as cars and tractors became more numerous, the demand for gasoline, kerosene, lubricating oil and grease needed to operate them increased dramatically. Petroleum deposits in western Manitoba were not discovered until 1951. Crude oil came to Manitoba from elsewhere, mostly the United States, from places such as Oklahoma and Texas. As early as 1915, a group known as the Rosenort Farmers Association (RFA), in the area north of Morris, purchased rail tank cars of refined petroleum that they re-sold to local farmers. They installed storage tank at a railway siding located three miles north of Morris.
In March 1927, a group of local farmers established the Trump Oil Company Limited. Signatory members were David K. Eidse, Cornelius D. Loewen, William Remple, Jacob R. Klassen, Cornelius K. Eidse, Jacob K. L. Friesen, Peter U. Brandt, and Peter F. Brandt. They obtained a charter of incorporation via Letters Patent under the Manitoba Joint Stock Companies Act on 30 March 1927. The company held a capital stock of $20,000. In the early 1930s, the company (taking its name from the nearby railway siding of Trump) purchased the tanks, equipment, and buildings of the RFA, and hired an engineer to design a refinery. It was constructed and began operating, using crude oil imported from the USA, in the spring of 1934.
On 23 July 1935, slightly over a year after it began operation, some volatile chemicals at the refinery exploded. Two men later died from wounds, including the refinery’s designer and engineer. The refinery was destroyed by the subsequent fire but some buildings were saved. It was rebuilt and Trump Oil stayed in business until the early 1940s. During the Second World War, new regulations forced all Canadian refineries to use a certain proportion of Canadian crude so the Trump plant, being reliant on American sweet crude, was sold and it never operated again. The remaining refinery buildings were later occupied by an auto wrecking and repair business, at leat one of which was moved into Morris. The site is now open farmland although it is alleged that a petroleum storage tank is still buried underground.
Photos & Coordinates
“Winnipeg man dies in Morris refinery explosion,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 July 1935, page 3.
“Rokus Horvath, victim of oil explosion, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 August 1935, page 9.
Furrows in the Valley: A Centennial Project of the Rural Municipality of Morris, 1880-1980 by the Morris History Book Committee, 1980, pages 341-342.
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 241T - The Trump Oil Company Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 30 May 2019