Canadians tend to be laid back and unassuming. Seldom do we jump on the bandwagon and take credit for things we have accomplished. I am amazed at some of the discoveries, embraced by the world, that have their origins in Canada.
Many feel American agricultural pioneer George Washington Carver is the inventor of peanut butter, however, the first patent for the spreadable substance was actually given to Montreal's Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884.
Graeme Ferguson and Roman Kroitor, two Canadian filmmakers, first pioneered the technology of high-resolution images on huge screens at Montreal's Expo '67. They founded Multi-Screen Corporation, which later became IMAX (short for "Image Maximum"). Its headquarters remain in Toronto.
Hockey, although a Canadian staple, originated in England. But the hockey mask, which has saved many a tooth, was first worn regularly by Montreal Canadiens player Jaques Plante in 1959. Once Plante donned the mask, the Canadiens went on to an 18-game winning streak, proving players could perform just as well—if not better—without the threat of a puck to the face.
Sir Sandford Fleming, Canadian railroad pioneer, was annoyed at clocks in stations, which were not synchronized. He came up with a system of time, where he divided the world into 24 time zones. In 1884, at the International Meridian Conference in Washington, D.C., his system of Standard Time was adopted.
In the 1950s, Winnipeg's Harry Wasylyk used flexible plastic polyethylene to create the first garbage bag, at the request of a local hospital looking for a sanitary way to dispose of waste. The Union Carbide Company bought his product, and manufactured it for home use under the name Glad in the 1960s.
As the story goes, newspaper publisher Joseph Coyle of British Columbia overheard an argument about a delivery of broken eggs, that had literally all been put in one basket. Thinking there had to be a better way, Coyle came up with the humble beginning of a big idea. In 1911, he crafted a carton of individual slots so the eggs wouldn't jostle against each other and break in transit. Over a century later, his creation, the egg carton, remains largely unchanged.
Farmer John McIntosh of Dundela, Ontario, came across apple seedlings growing in an area he was clearing; he replanted them in his garden and all but one died. Recognizing that the taste of the fruit the lone tree bore was something special, he learned how to graft the tree to reproduce the same variety. To this day, every single McIntosh apple is descended from that one tree, which fell in 1910. Interested in owning a piece of Canadian history? The original McIntosh farm, now in disrepair, was put up for sale last fall.
Maybe we should coin a new phrase: “As Canadian as apple pie.”