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Firm: Clayton Bond and Mogridge

Address: 635 6 Avenue SW

Date of final plans: 1957

Status: standing as built

The French Petroleum Building, later the Alpine Building, was constructed by Lt Cdr Austin Henry Ford (1913–1981). This was Ford's second office after the Derrick Building, which he built in 1954 out of a former pool table factory. In 1956 Ford bought Lake O'Hara Lodge, which he owned until 1976.

The building was completed in 1958 and was two stories. It's first name came from the French Petroleum Company, which was the main tenant. In March 1961 the building was finished to five storeys, at which time Ford renamed it the Alpine Building, after the Alpine Meadow next to Lake O'Hara Lodge.

The Compagnie française des pétroles was founded on 28 March 1924 by Ernest Mercier with the backing of French President Raymond Poincaré. Although a private enterprise, it functioned as France's de facto national oil company. In 1954 it created the Total brand of gasoline. After the Second World War, the Cfp started looking into operating in Canada. In early April 1953 it sent its chief geologist, Henri de Cizancourt, to Alberta to conduct a survey of the province's oilfields. Shortly thereafter, Cizancourt moved to Calgary and in September 1956 the Cfp established its Canadian subsidiary, the French Petroleum Company of Canada, Ltd. Cizancourt set up the company's head office in Calgary, initially located in the Slezas Building at 718 8 Avenue. In June 1957 French went public with an offer of $1,580,000 at $10 per share, trading on the Toronto and Montreal Stock Exchanges.

French Petroleum remained the primary tenant of the Alpine Building through the 1960s. Cizancourt retired in 1966 at which time William T. Hamilton became President. In 1970 the company changed its name to Total Petroleum (North America) Ltd., and in 1971 it moved its offices to the brand new Standard Life Building at 639 5 Avenue. Total (NA) was bought out in 1997 by Ultramar Diamond Shamrock. In 1997 the new building owner, Dome Britannia Properties, spent $2M retrofitting the building per a design by Joanne Wright of Archiasmo. The windows were enlarged and a rooftop deck was built. Despite this, it looks mostly like it did when it was first built. Personally, I'd love to see the building restored to its 1950s state.

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