Paul Morningstar was a big man, a truly colourful individual who viewed life through the prism of a simple philosophy and a wry sense of humour.
While he could attest to many skills, like others in his family, he considered himself first and
foremost an oil man and largely lived his life – and died – in the oil fields of Oil Springs, Ontario.
When he passed away suddenly of a heart attack on Feb. 13, 2012 his family decided the most fitting place to erect a memorial to him was
where he most loved to be – at the Morningstar Oil Properties within a few feet from where he died while working on an oil well.
His son Alan, who along with his cousin Darrin Morningstar, now runs the family oil business, noted that following
his father’s death his remains were cremated and as a consequence there was no stone to commemorate his life.
“We wanted to recognize him in some way and decided the most fitting place to do it was right here where he spent all his time,”
he said, adding that his father loved the oil business and would most like to be remembered for his contribution to the oil industry.
Paul’s twin brother, Phil Morningstar, said he thinks his brother would be proud of the memorial and believes
it’s the first time that a local oil man has been recognized in such a way.
“You often see where someone has died on a highway and their family or friends will put up a cross at the location,” he said. “It’s just a way
of showing a little bit of respect for that person and that’s really all this is about.”
He added that oil runs deep within the veins of the Morningstar family, pointing out that his grandfather, father, uncles, and his three brothers were
all in the business of producing oil. “Our family has a combined 400 years of experience in the oil business,” he noted. “They were all good oil men who knew their business.”
He added that his brother Paul was also an excellent
machinist who built most of the tools and equipment they used in the production of crude oil.
The Morningstar family originated in Alsace-Lorraine but migrated to the State of Pennsylvania in the early 1800s, where they were they were engaged in the
mining industry for a number of years. In the early 1860s they moved to Welland County, Ontario where Leslie H. Morningstar (Paul’s grandfather) was born in 1868. At the age of 13, he left home and eventually found his way to the Oil Springs area where
he secured a job as foreman at the Edys Mills stave factory and also took up farming at Lot 34, Con. 8, Dawn Township.
Phil Morningstar noted that in 1919 his grandfather bought part of the former Canadian Oil property in Oil Springs and began oil production.
His father, Tony Morningstar, purchased another portion of it in 1922 and the family has remained in oil production ever since.
Alan Morningstar noted that he and his cousin Darrin now represent four generations of their family to continue in oil production
and adds that the prospects are good that their children will make it five generations of the Morningstar family to remain in the Oil Springs fields.