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Home > History of Development > Alberta's Heroes of Resource Development > Hydrocarbon Heroes >  R. C. Fitzsimmons

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R. C. Fitzsimmons

Fitzsimmons, Robert C. Promoter of tar sands development and founder of International Bitumen Co., 1920'sIn 1927, R. C. Fitzsimmons formed the International Bitumen Company and built a small plant near Bitumount, 80 kilometers north of Fort McMurray, to produce bitumen for the roofing and paving markets. The plant was based on his earlier experimental work and that of Dr. Karl Clark of the Alberta Research Council. This operation continued with some technical success, but little profit. In late 1920s he was still drilling.  He later moved his work towards mining around the 1930s.

Bitumount Separtion Plant, 1930.By 1930, Fitzsimmons had constructed a small oil separation plant at Bitumount which was located on land leased from the government, and was officially named "Bitumount" by Fitzsimmons in 1933. Having successfully separated the crude oil from the sands in his new plant, Fitzsimmons then attempted to develop his new company into a viable commercial enterprise for selling bitumen for roofing and road surfacing. Difficulties in marketing the product, however, frustrated the dreams of Fitzsimmons, although the company expanded the Bitumount project to include a small refinery by 1937-38. 

Fitzsimmons, R.C., cabin at Bitumount, 1930The Bitumount post office was established on the site in 1937 and operated until 1940. In a final attempt to succeed on a commercial basis, Fitzsimmons established Tar Sands Products Limited in 1941; this new firm was designed mainly to sell International Bitumen Company products. By 1942, however, financial difficulties forced him to sell the operation. Fitzsimmons was forced to sell the International Bitumen Company to L. R. Champion in 1943. Champion re-named the company Oil Sands Limited. In 1948, the plant was taken over by the Alberta Government to investigate extraction methods with large scale equipment.

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