So this weekend we celebrate, in true Canadian fashion, the birth of our country. And like all good birthday parties, we’ll have entertainment and food and music and food and fireworks and food and friends. Usually the friends bring food. It’s all good.
But what does it mean to be Canadian?
Worldwide, arguably the most famous trait of a Canadian is the “eh” that we all seem to have imprinted in our genetic code. Why is that? Not why is it burned into our genetics but why is that the way in which the rest of the world identifies us?
We’re just too darn polite in too many ways. Particularly when it comes to self promotion. Most people around the world don’t know what Canada and Canadians have achieved. Heck, we don’t even know what we’ve achieved.
Let me give you just a short list:
1. If you’re in to computers and animation?
- Charge coupled device was co-invented by Canadian physicist Willard Boyle and American physicist George E. Smith (1969) (shared the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2009).
- Key frame animation was invented by Nestor Burtnyk and Marcelli Wein in the 1970s.
2. How about communication?
- The Walkie-Talkie was invented by Donald L. Hings and Alfred J. Gross for military use (1942)
- The television camera was improved by F.C.P. Henroteau (1934).
- Amplitude modulation was invented by Reginald Fessenden in 1906.
- Standard time was introduced by Sir Sandford Fleming (1878).
- The Cesium Beam atomic clock was developed by National Research Council personnel in the 1960s.
- Java programming language was invented by James Gosling.
- Development of the BlackBerry was led by Mike Lazaridis.
- The pager was invented by Alfred J. Gross in 1949.
- The 56k modem was invented by Dr. Brent Townshend in 1996.
- The telephone was invented by Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell in Brantford, Ontario
3. Perhaps transportation and mobility?
- The separable baggage check was invented by John Michael Lyons in 1882.
- The hydrofoil boat was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Casey Baldwin(1908).
- The first commercial jetliner to fly in North America was designed by James C. Floyd, the term jetliner being derived from his Avro Jetliner (1949).
- The electric streetcar was improved by John Joseph Wright in (1883).
- The snowmobile was invented by Joseph-Armand Bombardier (1937).
- The Parclo (partial cloverleaf) interchange was developed by planners at the Ontario Department of Highways
- Bixi, a public bicycle sharing system launched in Montreal in 2009.
- The Electric wheelchair was invented by George Klein in 1952.
- Prosthetic hand was invented by Helmut Lucas in 1971.
- Compound steam engine for marine use was invented by Benjamin Franklin Tibbetts in 1842.
- Electric car heater was invented by Thomas Ahearn in 1890.
4. Domestic life? You bet!
- Pablum was invented by Frederick Tisdall, Theodore Drake, and Allan Brown in 1930.
- Plexiglas was invented by William Chalmers while a graduate student at McGill University in 1931.
- Easy-Off Oven Cleaner was invented by Herbert McCool in Regina in 1932.
- The garbage bag was invented by Harry Wasylyk, 1950.
- The jolly jumper was invented by Olivia Poole in 1959.
- Caesar (cocktail), introduced in Calgary in 1969..
- Wonderbra was invented by Louise Poirier.
- Cardiac pacemaker was invented by John Hopps.
- Alkaline battery was invented by Lewis Urry in 1954.
- Caulking gun was invented by Theodore Witte in 1894.
- Electric Oven was invented by Thomas Ahearn in 1882.
- Egg carton was invented by Joseph Coyle of Smithers, British Columbia in 1911.
Yes, the egg carton.
5. And sports and entertainment?
- Table hockey games was invented by Donald Munro (1930s).
- Basketball was invented by James Naismith (1892).
- The goalie mask was invented by Jacques Plante in 1959.
- IMAX was co-invented by Roman Kroitor in 1968.
- DigiSync a bar-code reader used in motion picture production was invented by Mike Lazaridis (it won Emmy and Academy Awards in 1999)
- Five pin bowling was invented by Thomas F. Ryan in Toronto in 1909.
- Lacrosse was codified by William George Beers around 1860.
- Ice hockey was invented in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Honestly, there’s a lifelong dispute about that. But Nova Scotia seems likely. And I’m giving them the credit.
- Instant Replay was invented for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada in 1955.
- Trivial Pursuit was invented by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in 1979.
That’s the short list. And it doesn’t include any of the more recognizable biggies like Sonar and Insulin and the Canadarm. So why doesn’t the world know this? Why don’t Canadians know this?
We never tell anyone. That’s why.
I’m not saying we need to become a nation of braggarts or overbearing cocktail party conversation monopolizers.
But maybe we need to say something.