24 Everyday items you didn't know were Canadian

2014-07-01 11:47

Canada Day is here!

Canada turned 146 years old on 1 July 2014. While Canadians are generally considered to be polite, under-the-radar type people, Canada has given the world some of its greatest inventions.

In honour of Canada Day, here are some of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world:

The Epic Old Man

Trivia SA considers this to be Canada’s funniest contribution to the world. If you Google “epic old man“, you’re sure to come across this world famous prankster. (Video clip and full article here.)

Peanut Butter 

Montreal pharmacist Marcellus Gilmore Edson envisioned his nutty ointment-like product, patented in 1884, as a food option for people who couldn’t chew. Or for, you know, everyone.

The Wonderbra

Montreal’s Canadian Lady Corset Company first licensed the trademark “Wonder-bra” in 1939, and then renamed the company Wonderbra in 1961.

Trivial Pursuit

A personal favourite of ours for obvious reasons, this game was invented in 1979 by Scott Abbott, a Montreal sports editor, and Chris Haney, a photo editor.

The Odometer

Road trips were never the same after 1854, when Nova Scotia inventor Samuel McKeen created a device that measured distance with every revolution of a carriage wheel.

The Egg Carton

Newspaper editor Joseph Coyle of Smithers, British Columbia, found an egg-cellent new use for paper in 1911.


Filmmakers Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroiter, and Robert Kerr and engineer Robert C. Shaw founded IMAX in 1967. Kroiter produced the first IMAX film in 1970.

The Walkie-Talkie

Don Hings invented what he called the “packset” in 1937. When Canada declared war on Germany two years later, he went to Ottawa to redevelop the device for military use. Over and out.


Toronto scientists Frederick Banting, Charles Best, and James Collip didn’t actually invent insulin in 1922 — it’s a hormone naturally produced by the pancreas. Instead, they discovered it and learned how it could treat diabetes.

Instant Replay

CBC Television producer George Retzlaff used a kinescope when he created the first-ever Instant Replay in 1955. Not surprisingly, it was during a broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada.

The Foghorn

Robert Foulis invented a steam-powered foghorn in 1854, but died penniless because he didn’t patent it.

The Baggage Tag

John Michael Lyons of New Brunswick changed travel when he invented the first baggage tag in 1882. The revolutionary document contained information about the bag’s point of departure, destination, and owner. (Useless info – Trivia SA’s founder once had a close relationship with baggage tags at OR Tambo International Airport.)

The Paint Roller

The paint roller has a messy history. Canadian Norman Breakey invented it in 1940, but an American inventor named Richards C. Adams tweaked the design and filed the first patent.

The Electric Wheelchair

In 1952, engineer George Klein made the world more accessible with a motorized wheelchair.

Garbage Bags

With stretchy, waterproof polyethylene at their disposal, Harry Wasylyk of Manitoba and Larry Hansen of Ontario invented the first plastic garbage bag for commercial use in 1950. Union Carbide Company bought the idea and brought Glad trash bags into homes all over the world. Quite trashy, but we're glad they did.

Canola Oil

This heart-healthy, affordable and “ideal for any type of cooking” oil was created in the early 1970s by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stafansson. It smells a bit funny though, but that’s just us.

The Alkaline Battery

Invented by Lewis Urry in 1954, this invention still keeps us going. And going. And going. Especially when Eskom doesn’t.

The Jolly Jumper

Thanks to Olivia Poole’s invention in 1959, babies all over the world enjoyed bouncing around and giggling to no end as they developed rhythm and improved their balance. Ourselves included. We still do (giggling to no end.)

The Robertson Screw

Invented by P.L. Roberston, this screw revolutionized screwdriver bits all over the world. And also ensured you could never find a square bit when you needed one.


Invented by William Chalmers at McGill University in 1931, this made sheet glass a lot safer for all of us. And for aquariums everywhere.

The Pager

Alfred J. Gross gave us text messaging in a box, way back in 1949. Basically, this was a radio transmitter that sent text messages. Almost like a … oh. Never mind.

The BlackBerry

This phone was invented by Mike Lazaridis, and amongst other things, it could send text messages, almost like a … – oh. Never mind.

The Java Programming Language

The thingamajig that needs to update something on your computer every now and again, and tells you that it’s being used everywhere? Invented by James Gosling (no relation to Ryan).

The Beebster

Canada unfortunately gave us the Beebster, but we think it was unintentional. We refuse to have him. Sorry.

At Trivia SA, you'll find fun and interesting facts about the world around us - with a distinct South African flavour. It's probably the only website in South Africa where you can actually smell the braaivleis when you visit.

The full article (including awesome photo's and video clips) is available on Trivia SA's website.

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