MJS Properties began a project house flipping in a small town in Lambton County. We often find treasures under floorboards, behind walls, and hidden in forgotten boxes. This time it was more. The people of Oil Spring, Ontario are the genuine treasure we found here. Obvious from the very beginning, the residents have enormous pride in their village. Countless people stopped by throughout the course of the project to find out what we were up to. They shared stories about the house, the town, and the area’s rich history.
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Rich History Around Every Corner
Did you know that Oil Springs is home to the site of the first commercial oil well in North America?
Don Kersey, an Oil Producer, invited Matt on a personal tour of some working wells dating back to approximately 1850. Fascinated because of his experience in Fort McMurray years ago, Matt jumped at the opportunity.
He learned about the process of pumping oil from the ground and the separation process. Don gave a quick lesson in terminology like “jerker-line”, invented by J.H. Fairbanks. Just down the road from the MJS Properties house flipper project is the first receiving station for Imperial Oil.
Wonderful People Full of Stories
We met many interesting people with even more interesting stories, including one about an infamous “lady of the evening” named Delilah who carried out her business in a shack during the 1800s. They shared other stories about the population going from a boomtown to a ghost town when everyone left. Many of the people living in the village were American and had to return for the civil war. Others recalled stories of people fearing for their lives because of an impending attack by the Irish. The machinery shop across the intersection from the MJS project is apparently rich in history and displays an informative plaque out front for visitors to read. The Independent, a local paper, even interviewed Matt about his educational journey into the area’s past while house flipping in a small town.
A chemist and druggist, A.W. Dewar built the home we worked on. He apparently also dealt in schoolbooks, stationery, and wallpaper. This makes sense because we found many chemistry flasks among other treasures while peeling back the layers of history within the home. We also found a copy of the London Free Press and Farmers’ Almanac, both dated in 1902.
Able to Give Back
There were old railway lanterns, horse’s reigns, and a ton of other things we found to be remarkably interesting. We donated the proceeds from many of the items we sold to VETS Canada. Giving back is something MJS is quite proud of. Because the former homeowner was a war veteran who struggled, we chose this is a charity that provides support to Canadian Veterans who are homeless or at risk. MJS Properties tries to connect our charitable initiatives to the successful flipping projects we are working on.
It Feels Good to Make Others Smile
A gentleman who grew up in the house even stopped by to share their little piece of history. He told us the only way to heat the home was a wood stove so the kitchen had to be filled with wood. We shocked him when he learned we successfully installed a modern furnace. He shared memories of his father shoving a stick in the ground, now an enormous willow tree shading the entire yard. Filled with genuine gratitude, he thanked us for bringing the home back to life instead of a more unfortunate demise like demolition.
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"This One's For the Books"
We were honoured to be so warmly welcomed. Many people get their backs up and don’t trust strangers. Others in my industry have tarnished the opinions of real estate investors by focusing on profit over people. I was proud to prove MJS Properties is different.
House flipping is typically preferred to be a quick process with minimal work before selling it off. This isn’t the way we do things. We specialize in distressed homes that need a lot of work. We take the necessary time to do things right. House flipping in a small town filled with older homes and fixer-uppers such as the one in this project, built in the late 1800s, requires someone who cares about its past and its future. It takes a lot of time to turn these properties around but it is worth it.
We Home to Return
Buildings are important to the people and their history. So it was an honour to return one of them to its former glory so the enjoyment can continue, and a new story can unfold. The generosity of the people of Oil Springs with their time and knowledge is impressive. We felt very welcome and hope to have an opportunity to work in this community again flipping houses our way.