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You've Got to be Kidding...

Who's on First


Jonathan van Bilsen

August 17, 2023

Who's on First

Whenever you ask most people, who the first person to set foot on the moon was, they will tell you the answer. Probably because more than 600 million people watched the event live on television. That, by the way, is the most ever watched TV program in history. It made me wonder what other firsts there were, many of which are quite a bit more obscure.

For example:

• The first double-edged safety razor was invented in 1901, by a travelling salesperson named Gillette. Certainly gave him a financial ‘edge’.

• The first manned hot air balloon flight was in Paris, in 1783. It only lasted 20 minutes, but must have been amazing.

• The first Tim Horton’s opened in 1964 as a Red Barn restaurant. Three years later, owner Tim Horton (Toronto Maple Leaf player) and his investor, Ron Joyce, switched to donuts. Horton died in a car crash in 1974 and Joyce took over the company.

• The first person to reach both the North (1926) and South (1911) Poles was Roald Amundsen. Robert Peary discovered the North Pole in 1909.

• The first person to break the sound barrier was Chuck Yeager in 1947. Two days before the flight, Chuck was thrown from a horse and broke two ribs.

• Only one US president was elected unanimously. You guessed it, George Washington. I doubt we will ever see that again.

• The first indoor hockey game was played in Montreal, in 1875. I bet tickets were much less than today’s average rate of $150 

• The first transatlantic wireless message was sent by Marconi, from St. John’s in 1901. The area is now named Signal Hill, and features a monument to John Cabot, the first Western European to have sighted land there.

• The first camcorder was invented by Billy Boyle in 1969. I wondered if he envisioned TikTok and YouTube videos back then?

• The first gas station in Canada opened in 1907, in Vancouver. It was actually a steam station, as it served hot water in a tank, with a hose attached. 

• The first hockey player to score 50 goals in one season was Maurice Richard in 1945. Sadly, nine years later, he was suspended permanently for slugging a ref with his stick.

• The first snowmobile was invented in 1937 by Bombardier, with a whopping 10 horsepower engine and a top speed of 32 kph. In comparison, today’s engines run 200 horsepower, and a speed of over 240 kph.

• Staying with winter, the first snow blower was invented in 1925 by a fellow named Sicard. That idea certainly caught on.

• And lastly, the first false teeth were made by Claudius Ash in 1845. He used porcelain and steel springs. I guess you couldn’t rinse them, as they would rust.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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