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Home > Innovation and New Technology > ARC: Profile

Alberta Research Council: Profile

Alberta Research Council: Profile

Alberta Research CenterARC was founded in 1921—the first provincial research organization in Canada. Established as the Scientific and Industrial Research Council of Alberta (SIRCA), its mandate was to document Alberta's mines and natural resources for industry.

Important figures in ARC's early development: founder Dr. Henry Marshall Tory, first president of the University of Alberta, who was considered Canada's foremost educator of the day, and was instrumental in the founding of the National Research Council and Carleton University; provincial secretary Jean L. Coté and Premier Charles Stewart, who championed SIRCA; University of Alberta geologist John Allan; chief mines inspector John Stirling, and mining professor Norman C. Pitcher. 

With no shortage of potential research projects to explore, SIRCA quickly attracted a nucleus of widely respected professors and researchers, including Dr. Robert C. Wallace, second president of the University of Alberta; chief chemical engineer Edgar Stansfield, and Dr. Karl Clark, chemist, who became internationally recognized for his oil sands research.

In 2001, the Alberta Research Council celebrates its 80th anniversary in headquarters on Edmonton's Karl Clark Road, named for the researcher who unlocked the secrets of the sands.

In 1925, he demonstrated a workable paving process on a stretch of the St. Albert Trail. But he also viewed the sands as a huge deposit of petroleum and by 1929 patented a process for separating the oil from the sand, a hot-water method with which Syncrude and Suncor now produce 17 percent of Canada's domestic oil.

A.W. (Tony) Cashman. A Historical Review of 75 Years of Service. Edmonton: Alberta Research Council, 1996. With permission from the Alberta Research Council.

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