Canadians are an inventive bunch. In fact, Canadian inventors have patented more than a million inventions—but far too many of us would be unable to name more than just a few. From Ginger Ale to insulin, from Bombardier’s “Ski-doo” to Plante’s goalie mask, plus the “Jolly Jumper,” instant mashed potatoes, the lawn sprinkler and the modern plastic garbage bag, items created from Canadian imagination and insight are a part of our daily lives.
Canadian cooks can thank inventor Thomas Ahearn for making their lives much easier. In 1892, he invented the first electric oven. The original model was made of brick, 2 metres (six feet) wide by 2 metres (six feet) high and, according to the press at the time, hot enough to “roast an ox.”
Canada has always been at the forefront of advances in medical technology and health-care related inventions. One of Canada’s most prolific inventors, George J. Klein, created an electric wheelchair that offered mobility to quadriplegics and changed lives for the better. Dr. Klein’s list of inventions also includes the microsurgical staple gun and internationally significant innovations in aviation and space technologies.
In 1950, while studying hypothermia, Dr. John Hopps developed the world’s first cardiac pacemaker, which brought hope to those suffering with heart disease. In his experiments using radio frequency heating to restore body temperature, he learned that if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it could be started again by mechanical or electric artificial stimulation. The first version of the now common medical device was external, far too large to be placed inside the human body. Improvements and miniaturization finally allowed for an unobtrusive version that could be surgically implanted.
While smart phones and other communications devices, as well as technologies such as push email and mobile apps, are commonplace now, they were nearly the stuff of science fiction in 1999, when Research in Motion (RIM) founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie introduced the now iconic BlackBerry®. Their invention freed information workers from their desks and changed the way the world communicates. Subsequent versions and continuous innovation have kept RIM and its BlackBerry device a front runner in the massive smart phone market.
Title: Canadian Innovations 2011
Date of Issue: 18 August 2011
Denominations: 59¢ x 4