Mundane utilities like delivering portable power to the people, invigorating the domain of skiing or pioneering global standard time, Canadians have played important roles in innovation. There is an assortment of Canadian individuals who have been directly responsible for bringing about a level of ease in everyday activities through their innovative thinking. If all this information doesn’t ring a bell, here’s your chance to brush up on the history of Canadian innovation.
Innovation takes multiple forms; it could be a new thing, a new process for making something familiar, a new market to target, a new source of supply of raw material, and industrial restructuring, or it could be establishing a monopoly. In many cases, Canadian inventions have gone unnoticed either because, by the time they were patented, another country already came up with the invention or because of the inventor’s untimely demise. Something like this occurred when the inventor of the humble paint roller, Toronto native Norman Breakey passed away in 1940, the same year an American Richard C. Adams patented his version of it.
A major medical breakthrough made by a Canadian was seen in the introduction of insulin by Canadian doctor Frederick Banting who sold his invention to the University of Toronto for just a dollar. Before this, diabetics had a very short life expectancy. Significant advancements were made in the development of the modern pacemaker when engineer John Hopps designed a subcutaneous version of it based on the research done by cardiac surgeons Wilfred Bigelow and John Callaghan. That is certainly no small feat. George Klein, another celebrated Canadian inventor is credited for the invention of the electric wheelchair.
According to economists, funding of research and innovation puts considerable strain on the economy of a nation, and despite their faith in the merits of it, governments tend to pull back support for innovation. But this fact notwithstanding, there have been major strides made by Canadian innovators even in the internet age. The title, father of the Java programming language is given to Alberta-born James Gosling although he worked on it with his Sun Microsystems colleagues in California. It is one of the most widely used programming languages and serves as the basis of several applications that we use on a day to day basis from apps on our mobile phones to the creation of computer-generated imagery used in big-ticket Hollywood blockbusters.
Coming to the topic of the cinema experience there is nothing that moviegoers are willing to shell out big bucks for than the IMAX experience. IMAX was the brainchild of a trio of Canadian filmmakers – Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor and Robert Kerr. For creating a never before seen movie viewing experience for Expo ‘70, they recruited the technical expertise of engineer William Shaw to invent the cameras required to film image maximum – IMAX for short. Today, leading filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott use the same invention to produce movies exclusively marketed as IMAX cinema.
There are plenty of other trivial inventions that aren’t always brought up in the conversation about innovation. Peanut butter, garbage bags, and road lines are a few of the minor yet honorable gems produced by Canadians. These and many others exhibit the creative potential of this nation and demonstrate why governments need to invest in making the appropriate breeding grounds for further innovation in a varied number of fields. Canada has excelled in providing the required technical education and expertise through its internationally recognized engineering and management institutions to drive research and innovation in increasingly progressive domains and will continue to do so.