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- 2009 -

Bill Kaufmann

Hall of Fame inductee Bill Kaufmann was born and raised on a farm near Pangman, Saskatchewan, where he went to school in a one-room schoolhouse.

In 1955 he entered the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to study geology. He earned both his bachelor's and masters in geology at the U of S.

Bill lived by the motto “mediocrity won’t get you anywhere” and his career was certainly anything but mediocre. From 1961 to 1976, Bill worked for Tenneco Oil in Calgary, first as a junior geologist, working his way up to exploration manager. The company was then sold to CDC Oil and Gas Limited. Bill eventually became Senior Vice-President at that company.

After further mergers and acquisitions, CDC became Canterra Energy Limited. Bill served first as Senior Vice-President of Exploration and Production, Frontier, and President of Canterra Petroleum, the company’s Denver-based subsidiary. In addition, he served as Chairman of the Board of Canterra Egypt, where he led the negotiating team of the company’s Egyptian sulfur exploration projects.

In 1982, while working at Canterra, Bill had the privilege to be the executive leader of the team that discovered the Terra Nova field off the shore of Newfoundland.

In 1988, Bill’s career took him in a different direction as he served as the COO and General Manager of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, one of Canada’s largest and most active chambers of commerce.

He has served on the boards of the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Calgary Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Rotary Club of Calgary, University Technology International, and the McMahon Stadium Society. In 2009, he served on the boards of several oil and gas firms including Heritage Oil Corporation.

Bill was dedicated to the advancement of post-secondary education. He sat on the University of Calgary Senate as well as its Board of Governors and served as an MBA student mentor for their Faculty of Business. He also completed a six-year term on the Board of Directors of Bow Valley College.

He was a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club and a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.


Norm Mondor

Norm (Pierre) Mondor was born and raised in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan in 1937. Norm spent his early career in the lumber industry. When the forestry industry took a downturn in 1957, Norm followed rumors of good jobs in the oil industry and headed south, first to Estevan and then to Weyburn.

He started working on service rigs and eventually became the general manager of Addison and Leyen, an international service rig company with operations in Weyburn, Olds, Virden, and Williston. At the time that Norm was managing the company, its operations involved 11 rigs and 50 men.

In 1972, Norm bought Aldon Oils Ltd. which had a single, low-producing stripper well at the time. As one of the few one-man operations at the time, Norm faced many cheers and jeers from people in the industry, but he persevered.

He followed a strict business plan of picking up “fixer-uppers”, lower-producing wells that he could make better with his own skill and time. He followed a philosophy of expanding gradually and carefully, taking the time to do his homework to look for good opportunities.

Aldon Oils has grown steadily over the years and is now involved in drilling as well. Since their first horizontal drill in 1995, Aldon has grown to over 150 wells, with operations in the Midale, Frobisher, and Bakken areas, as well as gas, plays in Alberta.

Aldon supports many community events and projects in and around Weyburn, as well as providing a living for its local employees and contractors.


Jack Portor

Jack Porter, P.Geo. was one of the founding members of the Saskatchewan Geological Society and, even in retirement, continued to serve as one of the Saskatchewan oil industry’s great fonts of knowledge.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, he studied geology at the University of Saskatchewan at a time when only a hard rock course was offered. Nonetheless, when he graduated in 1946, he soon found himself in the midst of Western Canada’s emerging oil industry.

Straight out of college, his first job was with the Geological Survey of Canada in the Jasper, Alberta area before taking on survey work for Imperial Oil.

Soon after that job, he found himself back in university, this time as an instructor. As the veterans began returning from World War II, there was a sudden influx at Canada’s universities. Jack helped train Saskatchewan’s next generation of geoscientists by serving as a lab instructor at the U of S.

In his next job with the provincial Department of Mineral Resources, Jack traveled by canoe to northern Saskatchewan to do some of the early fieldwork exploring for oilsands.

From 1947-48, in the days before environmental panels, he worked for the provincial government alongside an engineer policing the clean-up of wells and pipelines.

He then moved on to the private sector, serving as a geologist for Rio Bravo and all of its successor companies, including Canadian Superior Oil Ltd. and Mobil Oil of Canada. He worked for the company for 38 years. He prides himself, early in his career with Rio Bravo, with having convinced the company’s exploration manager to have a second look at Saskatchewan’s sites at a time when all the industry’s attention was focused on Leduc. Before retiring, he ultimately served as the senior geological advisor to the Vice President of Exploration of Mobil Canada.

After his so-called retirement, he kept busy as a scholar of the Western Canadian petroleum industry. He has authored and co-authored over 16 technical papers. He contributes regularly to The Reservoir, the publication of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. He is currently the director of the Archives and History Committee of the Petroleum History Society.

Al Whitteron

Al was born and raised on a farm near Maxim, Saskatchewan. Al attended high school at Weyburn Collegiate.

After school, he worked some odd jobs, including working for the PFRA building dams, pastures, and corrals on a seasonal basis. In 1951, a friend came home with stories of good jobs working on the rigs in Alberta. When Al asked if he needed special training, his friend replied, “They just want farm boys who know machinery and know-how to work hard.” Al went to work in the oil patch on New Year's day and remained interested in the industry for years.

Between 1952 and 1971, he worked at jobs with rising levels of responsibility for companies such as Geoprosco, General Petroleums, Big Indian Drilling, James Drilling Ltd., and Kenting Drilling.

Finally, in 1971, he took a chance that defined the rest of his career. He and his partner Dennis Comm started Whitco Drilling Ltd., a shallow drilling company. Starting off as what Al describes as a shoestring operation, they built the company into one of the most successful of its kind, with operations throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta. The company was eventually bought out by Argus Drilling.

In 1978, he diversified into the service rig business when he started Rockwell Servicing with his partners Jim Rosychuk, Neil Belcher, and Al McEwan. The company managed to survive even through the National Energy Policy years and was eventually purchased by the Ensign Group in 1991.

From 1992 to 1998, he served as Operations Manager for Canadian Fracmaster, a job that saw him thrown between climatic extremes – he lived in Cuba for four years and traveled to Siberia and China for short periods of time. His final job before his planned retirement was as interim General Manager for Silverstar Well Servicing Ltd. where he looked after building and rigging up a fleet of new, state-of-the-art service rigs.

Al has always been known for his volunteer service to the industry. He sat on the board of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors for five years and served one year as the chair of their service rig division. He also spent two years working on the industry committee that put together the service rig procedures manual.


Tony Day

Tony Day – known as “Boss Hog” to his friends in the industry – was born and raised in Admiral, Saskatchewan where he also attended school. After school, he did some jobs in construction and farming until one day in 1952 the Paul Gauthrie Company began drilling in his area. Tony went to work for them and has been in the industry ever since.

He began his career as a derrick hand and eventually became a mechanic and welder, working in the Eastend, Haywarden, and Carnduff areas, as well as locations in Alberta.

In 1957, Tony bought a 1955 Chevy water truck with a 50 barrel tank to haul fresh water to the rigs. This was the beginning of Tony’s business, Fast Trucking, which continues to this day.

Tony acquired trucks one by one, building his water hauling business gradually through the 1960s and 1970s. Then, in 1977, Fast Trucking with the help of some other trucking companies got into the business of moving oil rigs. They began moving one or two rigs a day but built their capacity up to 13 rigs a day at their peak. By 2008, Fast Trucking had been responsible for moving a total of 1,700 drilling rigs with a fleet numbering 85 rig moving trucks.

Over that time, Tony had diversified his business to include an oil company, a service rig business, a construction company, and a rigging equipment refurbishing business. He also had the distinction of having designed and built the first free-standing double-triple service rig.

Outside of work, Tony’s biggest hobby was attending auction sales. He liked to say that he usually found whatever equipment he needed at Ritchie Brothers Auctions.

In 1999, Tony was honored as the Southeast Oilman of the Year at the Weyburn Oil Show. He was also an active fundraiser in his home community of Carnduff, where the school library has been named the Tony and Vi Day Resource Centre in his honor.

John Hlavka

Born in Minton, Saskatchewan, John Hlavka went to a little one-room country school where he received his education up to grade eight. After school, he tried his luck at farming for a while. Then, one day in 1954, an oilfield surveyor came into his yard looking for workers. He and his brother helped with that and then signed on as roughneck when the rig was built. He has been in the oil business ever since.

John liked reminding employees at Akita Drilling that he has done every job in the company, and he’s not far wrong. Over his 55 years in the industry, he worked as a floor hand on a drilling rig up to be the company CEO, and almost everything in between.

He started his career with Paul Gauthrie Development where he rose steadily through the ranks, eventually becoming field superintendent. In 1978, after a number of acquisitions and transfers among the companies he worked for, he became Vice President and General Manager ATCO Drilling Ltd.’s Rocky Mountain division, headquartered in Denver.

By the next year, he had moved up to Calgary to become Vice President of Operations for all the divisions of ATCO Drilling. In 1985, became president of all the ATCO Drilling companies. In 1993, ATCO spun out Akita Drilling, with John as president and CEO.

John built his career and reputation in the industry through attention to detail, commitment to excellence, and lots of hard work.


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