Imperial Standard

Imperial Oil, Exxon, and the Canadian Oil Industry from 1880

Table of contents


Part One: Foundations 1860-1917
1. Origins
2. Where Empires Collide
3. Resurrection

Part Two: Before Leduc 1917-1947
4. Adventures in the Tropis
5. Cogs in the Wheel
6. The Winning of the West

Part Three: After Leduc 1974-1980
7. Golden Age
8. Diversification
9. A More Complex World
10. Northern Visions

Epilogue: Since 1980
11. The Rollder Coaster
12. Exxon and Imperial: Ties that Bind
13. A Change in the Climage



For over 130 years, Imperial Oil dominated Canada’s oil industry. But from 1899 onwards, two-thirds of the company was owned by an American giant, making Imperial Oil one of the largest foreign-controlled multinationals in Canada.
Imperial Standard is the first full-scale history of Imperial Oil, exploring Imperial’s long-standing connection to Standard Oil of New Jersey, also known as Exxon Mobil, the relationship between the two companies, and the changes within the oil industry, from 1880 to 1980.


  • Winner, Petrolium History Society Book of the Year 2020
  • Winner, Petroleum History Society Book of the Year 2020
  • Short-listed, Alberta Publishing Award for Best Scholarly & Academic Book 2020
  • Short-listed, Alberta Publishing Award for Best Scholarly & Academic Book 2020


This is not a simple case study that narrowly analyzes how yet another Canadian firm was swallowed by a U.S. colossus. Imperial Standard reveals a legacy of complicated dynamics-between subsidiary and parent, between corporation and state-and helps us understand the inception of fossil-¬fuelled industrial capitalism in this country.
- Dimitry Anastakis, Literary Review of Canada

Graham D. Taylor draws on the rich archives of Imperial Oil and Exxon-Mobil to provide a detailed comprehensive of the relationship between the Canadian oil company and its main shareholder and investor, Jersey Standard/Exxon.

—Andrew Watson, Canadian Business History

Stated simply, Imperial Standard is an outstanding and accessible account of the Canadian oil industry’s most important companies by one of Canada’s foremost business historians.

—Paul Chastko, Canadian Journal of History