We examined the historical deposition of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) recorded in radiometrically-dated lake sediment cores from a small, conventional oil and gas operation in the southern Northwest Territories (Cameron Hills), and placed these results in the context of previously published work from three other important regions of western Canada: (1) the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta; (2) Cold Lake, Alberta; and (3) the Mackenzie Delta, NT. Sediment PAC records from the Cameron Hills showed no clear changes in either source or concentrations coincident with the timing of development in these regions. Changes were small in comparison to the clear increases in both parent and alkyl-substituted PACs in response to industrial development from the Athabasca region surface mining of oil sands, where parent PAC diagnostic ratios indicated a shift from pyrogenic sources (primarily wood and coal burning) in pre-development sediments to more petrogenically-sourced PACs in modern sediments. Cores near in-situ oil sand extraction operations showed only modest increases in PAC deposition. This work directly compares the history and trajectory of contamination in lake ecosystems in areas of western Canada impacted by the most common types of hydrocarbon extraction activities, and provides a context for assessing the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in the future.