When Canadian Liquid Air Company Limited ran this ad in Chemistry in Canada in 1951, its founding firm, Air Liquide of France, was one year shy of its 50th anniversary. Established in Paris in 1902 as a producer of industrial gases, Air Liquide quickly began to expand, opening subsidiaries around the globe, including Air Liquide Canada in 1911 on Montreal’s eastern outskirts. In less than a decade, Air Liquide Canada, which produced oxygen and then acetylene, had established plants from Halifax to Vancouver.
Air Liquide Canada was known for innovation, introducing the concept of gas distribution via pipeline in the 1930s. The company was at the forefront of welding technology, offering free welding instructions and a book, The Welding Review, to customers. Its expertise became invaluable during the Second World War, when welding and cutting techniques were scaled up to produce Allied airplanes, ships, tanks and guns. During the 1940s, Air Liquide Canada opened the country’s first welding and gas applications research laboratory, evolving into one of North America’s largest builders of cryogenic plants — the study of the production and behaviour of materials at very low temperatures.
Innovation continued, leading to construction of a gas plant to produce argon, used to form inert atmospheres for arc welding. The Canadian company also began to offer bulk carbon dioxide and speciality gases like kyrpton, neon and xenon.
Today, Air Liquide Group, a Paris-headquartered, Fortune Global 500 multinational, is present in 80 countries. The subsidiary Air Liquide Canada continues to be one of this country’s leading gas and welding suppliers, serving customers in the aeronautics, automobile, agri-food, chemical, defense, electronics, energy, metallurgy, metal fabrication, mining and healthcare industries from coast to coast.