We all know the Canadian classics: hockey, poutine, and the unbeatable butter tart. But did you know that Canada can also take credit for egg cartons, baggage tags, instant replay, instant mashed potatoes, the Caesar cocktail, and the McIntosh Red apple?!
Here are six more stellar things born in the Great White North.
This one’s timely! In 1884, the world system of standard time zones was established. Delegates from 27 countries met in Washington, D.C. to consider proposals about time zones made the previous decade by Canadian railroad planner and engineer Sir Sandford Fleming. His idea was to divide the world into 24 time zones, with each zone being exactly one hour apart from its neighbours. Now, time would be the same for everyone in each zone!
When a person’s heart doesn’t beat at a healthy rate or rhythm, pacemakers can help by sending out small electrical pulses to stimulate the heart muscles. One of the first, built by Canadian John Hopps in 1950, was the size of a toaster and needed to be plugged into a wall socket. Not ideal for active types, but it did the trick.
Half the pins but twice as fun! Five-pin bowling originated in Canada, and we’ve mostly kept it for ourselves. Originally carved out of maple wood (no surprise there), 5-pin skittles are now almost invariably plastic, and the balls are made out of solid rubber. Historically, they were of a uniform design and colour, but since the 1990s players have been allowed to personalize their bowling balls with engravings and more.
Early radios transmitted Morse code only, which was picked up by radio operators and transcribed into messages. Canadian Reginald Fessenden made the first voice radio broadcast in 1906. The radio operators who tuned in couldn’t believe their ears when they heard a human voice coming through for the first time! Soon families were gathering around the radio to be entertained by music, comedy and drama.
Hockey isn’t all we’re good at! Basketball was invented by Canadian physical education teacher Dr. James Naismith in 1891. He nailed two fruit baskets high on balconies at each end of a gymnasium, found a soccer ball and two teams, and the first game of basketball began.
It’s perhaps not surprising that this ferocious snow vehicle was invented by and for Canada. But what’s remarkable is how it exploded in popularity! The modern snowmobile was created in the 1950s by Canadian inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier. Today, snowmobilers in the United States and Canada spend $23 billion US annually on their sport.