Canada Hill. It sounds like a country to me, surprisingly enough, Canada Hill is not a country or an area in Canada, it is an area of Miri, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. It is believed Canada Hill got its name from a Canadian who used to live in the area. The original local name of the area is Bukit Telaga Minyak, as Canada Hill is indeed Sarawak’s and Malaysia’s birthplace of the petroleum industry, the place where the first oil well was drilled.
One of Canada Hill’s famous attractions the Old Grand Lady, which is not a frail old woman: it is Miri Well N.1, the iconic derrick structure of Miri where the first well in the country first struck oil on December 1910, milking for several decades to turn a poor country to a developed nation. This 30-meters-high landmark was built by Shell Company and was indeed the beginning of Miri City modernization. Back in the 1800s, Miri was just a fishing village, known as the second city in Sarawak.
Next to the Old Grand Lady is the Petroleum Museum. Built and designed to share the history and technological development of oil and gas in the country, the Petroleum Museum hosts an exhibition with plenty of information about the process involved from the extraction of crude oil to the final product, showcasing petroleum’s uses, sources and its impact on our daily lives, and taking visitors to a journey through millions of years of history of the Permian Basin, where the museum is located. There is also a scale model of an oil platform complete with written description of its function to the industry.
On the outdoors there is a historical Time Capsule with commemorative photographs, books, local newspaper and printed documents as well as the events of the day. There is a display of oil drilling equipment and a garden hosting the model of the Nodding Donkey, used sometimes by the industry to pump crude oil as it is more economical then using the oil rig. Next to the model, there are various commemorating and informative murals and plates.
The Miri Petroleum Museum opens daily 9am to 4,30pm except Mondays and public holidays, and is currently undergoing a $18 million renovation with some galleries closed and discounted admission offered.
Back to Canada Hill, you can take an interesting visit to Kampung Haji Wahed, a local village inhabited by Kedayan people. To reach it, turn left at the intersection at the top of the hill and follow the road. The kampung itself is quite unique, with old traditional wooden houses mixing with modern structures. There is a small shop and a green lawn there for you to take a rest for a while.
Canada Hill is one of the best elevated places from where to admire the entire area of Miri City as well as the South China Sea. The parking lot at the rear of the museum serves as a vantage point overlooking the town, the Miri-Brunei border, the offshore oil rigs and the refineries in nearby Lutong town. Last but not least, at Canada Hill you can even jog on the well-designed path, or, if you are adventurous, use the trekking trails that take you up the hill through a 2 kilometers, 30 minutes walk.
To reach Canada Hill, hail a taxi from Jalan Setia Raja. Enjoy your day out in Miri.