The idea of a social club for the wives of men in the oil industry began in 1951 at Redwater, Alberta. The person with the remarkable idea was Dean Hunter. She knew from personal experiences how lonely it could be for many wives of oil workers. The idea was that one night a month, an “oil wife” could plan on one night that she could be comparatively sure of going out even though the well caved in or blew in or needed something hauled to or from the well head.
Dean spent years with her husband wild-catting in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Many a time he had to cancel a promised evening’s entertainment because he had been called to “sit on a well.” There were the wives of men who worked the drilling rigs, changing tour every three weeks. Life in a “mobile home” of one form or another was very lonely and with small children to look after, most of these wives found it hard to make new friends.
It was a glorious September morning in 1951, when a young oil wife was on the verge of tears because anniversary though it was, she would have to spend the evening like so many others – alone. Dean’s thought was: “Why did an oil man always have to be an oil man and never a husband?”
After listening to this tearful young wife, an idea took shape – that women in the oil industry needed a social outlet, and it should be a Club to provide them with the opportunity for an evening away from home. With this thought in mind, Dean invited two friends, Kay KcCaskill and Arlene Hanna over for coffee to discuss the idea. These “pioneering” ladies decided to contact friends in Devon and Edmonton to find out their interest. Mary McRae and Mattie LaBerge volunteered to organize a meeting to be held in Edmonton.
Fifteen ladies attended this meeting and enthusiasm abounded. They agreed it should be social – to foster good fellowship and understanding among womenfolk in the oil industry and offer them an opportunity to attend a dinner meeting, to meet old friends and make new ones.
“Oil Wives” became a reality!