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R. C. Fitzsimmons

R.C. Fitzsimmons was an oil sands pioneer and entrepreneur. Realizing the economic potential of the oils sands, Fitzsimmons formed the International Bitumen Company in 1927. Bitumen is a natural petroleum product found in semisolid or solid state. Its sealing properties and stickiness make bitumen ideal for use in roofing and paving. The problem is that bitumen exists naturally in oil sands and is difficult to separate.

Fitzsimmons, undeterred by the oilsand separation problem, based his plant in Bitumount, an area located 80 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. The plant was successful in separating the bitumen from the oil sands, but profits were small early on. Determined to make his bitumen company work, Fitzsimmons operated and expanded his company throughout the 1930s. Plagued by marketing problems and financial difficulties, he sold his company in 1943. Although unsuccessful, Fitzsimons was one of the first bitumen entrepreneurs in what is today a multi-billion dollar industry.





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