How Many of These Canadian Inventions Do You Recognize?
It is almost a trope to ask Americans about Canada, relishing in how little they know about their northern neighbour. In fact, we share the greatest border in the world, living in relative peace since the War of 1812. While not as noisy as our American cousins, we have contributed many scientific innovations, making the world better for everyone. Here are my top 5 favourite Canadian inventions, sure to satisfy your daily Canadiana.
Canada Invented basketball. Well not exactly, let me explain. Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian educator from Almonte Ontario. While he got his career started in the “Great White North” he actually developed the game in Massachusetts, USA. This is not a reason to discount our connection, especially since the game would have been developed for this Canadian migrant’s contribution. Of course, you can suggest it was a joint effort, but that wouldn’t be fun, would it?
Canada invented ice hockey. Again, I should have started the statement with a qualifier, but what can you do. Hockey was originally developed in the British Isles, played on grass with “golf-like” clubs. While there is little evidence to support it being played on ice, it was the Canadian landscape that caused it to develop into the sport it is today. There is some documentation of Mi'kmaq Native Canadians playing a similar sport, although far removed from the current set up that we enjoy today. Further contributing to the Canadian story, there are accounts of settlers playing hockey (with First Nations) on St. Lawrence, the waterway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. While some things have roots abroad, it is the Canadian experience that changes them into something original, something new.
Canada invented the CanadArm. Finally we can take all the credit for ourselves, sharing little with the Americans. There I go again, forgetting that this technology was used in tandem with NASA, on their Space Shuttles. It was integral in the development of the International Space Station, making engineering and construction easy and safe. While fading out of commission in 2011, its legacy remains to this day.
Canada invented Superman. While not a tech invention, it is a cultural contribution of the highest order. While original as a character concept, there are many parallels with the Biblical Narrative, especially their names. If you notice the suffix “El”, it is the Hebrew word for God, found in related names like Samuel, Michael, and Daniel. In fact, Superman can be considered a cultural manifestation of our Messiah obsession, waiting for a superhero to save us. This makes sense considering that both Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel were Jewish, most likely exposed to these types of narratives in synagogue. The stories were rather human, despite the powers displayed by many of the characters. Through Superman we learn that even the most powerful people have a vulnerability; kryptonite or other.
Canada invented insulin. Diabetes hits many families, forcing a strict regimen of eating, testing, and medication. While this may seem burdensome now, many of these same patients would not have lived but for this medical innovation. Developed by Dr. Frederick Banting (1922) of Alliston, Ontario, Insulin allows excess sugar to be mobilized effectively, based on a chemical mechanism that forces expulsion through urination. While it has been standard care for many years, it is incredible to think of all the lives saved by this noble Canuck, and his team from Western Ontario University. You will see his name plastered over many Canadian schools, inspiring young minds to follow suit.