Our history

Canada, as a country, was only 13 years old when the Imperial Oil Company was formed by 16 oil refiners in southwestern-Ontario. As Canada has grown, Imperial has grown with it, sharing its prosperity and weathering the tough times.

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Our history
 

Scroll down to view the 135-plus year story of Imperial.

1800s

1880

Sixteen southwestern-Ontario refiners form The Imperial Oil Company in London, Ont., to find, produce and distribute petroleum products in Canada.

1883

Imperial moves its operations to Petrolia, Ont., after lightning strikes its London refinery.

1898

In need of expansion capital, Imperial sells a majority interest to the Standard Oil group in the United States.

1899

Imperial takes over Standard’s Canadian assets and moves its head office and operations to Sarnia, Ont.

 

Photo — 1880 - First twenty-three employees of Imperial Oil Company Limited, London, Ontario; 1883 - Grease plant, Imperial Oil Company refinery, Petrolia, Ontario; 1899 - Office of Imperial Oil, Sarnia, Ontario

1900-1950

1907

Imperial opens Canada's first service station in Vancouver, B.C.

1918

Imperial becomes the first company in Canada to adopt a system of joint industrial councils, an innovative approach to labour-management relations.

1920

Imperial Discovers oil at Fort Norman (now Norman Wells), N.W.T., on the Mackenzie River.

1924

Reginal Stratford is hired by Imperial to found the Canadian petroleum industry’s first research department.

Photo — 1907 - The first gasoline service station in Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia; 1924 - Doctor Reginald Killmaster Stratford, Chief Research Chemist, Imperial Oil Limited, Sarnia, Ontario; 1936 - Hockey play-off game which is being broadcast on radio; 1942 - Truck from first army convoy to come from Whitehorse via the Alcan Highway to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories ;1947 - Crowd at opening day, Imperial Leduc #1 discovery well, Leduc, Alberta

1930

Imperial develops the phenol-extraction process for the manufacture of lubricants.

1936

Imperial sponsors Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts for the first time.

1942

Imperial joins the Canadian and U.S. governments in Canol, a project to provide fuel for the U.S. war effort in the northern Pacific.

1947

Imperial discovers oil at Leduc, marking the beginning of Western Canada’s great oil development.

1949

Imperial and others from the Interprovincial Pipe Line Company build a pipeline from Edmonton to Superior, Wisconsin.

1960-1999

1964

At Cold Lake, Alta., Imperial begins an experimental program to extract bitumen from the oil sands.

1971

The company discovers natural gas at Taglu in the Mackenzie Delta.

1975

Imperial’s Strathcona refinery is built to replace older refineries in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Calgary.

Photo — 1975 - Aerial view of Imperial Oil Limited refinery at Strathcona, near Edmonton, Alberta

1978

Esso Resources Canada Limited, a Calgary-based wholly owned subsidiary, is formed to manage all of the company’s natural resource activity.

 

1981

A new division, Esso Petroleum Canada, is formed to manage all of the company’s petroleum product operations.

 

1984

Sixty years after research began in Sarnia, the new Sarnia Process and Automotive Research Centre opens.

 

1985

At the Norman Wells oil field in the N.W.T., a three-year expansion project is completed, making it the largest single project in the company’s history.

 

1989

Imperial purchases Texaco Canada Inc.; it is the second largest corporate acquisition in the nation’s history.

 

Photo — 1989 - Imperial purchases Texaco Canada Inc.

2000s

2004

A $10 million grant is given to the University of Alberta for a new research facility mandated to find more efficient, economically viable and environmentally responsible ways to develop Canada's oil sands resources.

Imperial moves its head office to Calgary from Toronto in Fifth Avenue Place.

2007

Imperial and ExxonMobil Canada acquire a multi-year exploration license, covering more than 500,000 acres, to explore for hydrocarbons in the Beaufort Sea.

2009

Imperial announces its decision to fund the first phase of the Kearl oil sands project, a new mining development northeast of Fort McMurray, Alta.

2012

Imperial announces approval of an expansion of the company’s Cold Lake operation in northeastern Alberta, called Nabiye.

Photo — 2012 - Nabiye, Cold Lake’s operation in northeastern Alberta

2013

Imperial announces the start-up of the initial development of the Kearl oil sands project, which incorporates next-generation technology innovations that significantly enhance environmental performance.

Photo — 2013 - Kearl, Alberta

2014

Imperial launches new corporate brand, logo and the name of the company becomes Imperial.

2015

Imperial announces the successful startup of the Kearl oil sands expansion project, ahead of schedule.

2016

Imperial launches ‘Synergy’ gasoline, developed with seven key ingredients and engineered to help improve fuel economy.

Imperial announces on March 6, it had reached agreements with five fuel distributors in Canada to sell its remaining 497 company-owned Esso retail stores.

Moves to a new campus-style office complex in southeast Calgary are completed.

Imperial opens new oil sands research centre in southeast Calgary, a state-of-the-art, 40,000 square foot facility, focused on oil sands innovation and technology.

Photo — 2016 - Imperial campus in Calgary, Alberta

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