Top 100 Inventions Made in Canada

Basketball, Plexiglas, and the Zipper

Red/sugar maple leaves wet from rain are arranged to make a Canadian flag.
Lisa Stokes/Getty Images

Canadian inventors have patented more than one million inventions. Let's take a look at some of the top inventions brought to us by those from Canada, including natural-born citizens, residents, companies, or organizations based there. 

"Our innovators have given novelty, variety, and color to our lives with their great practical gifts, and the world would be an exceedingly boring and grey place without their vitality," according to Canadian author Roy Mayer in his book "Inventing Canada."

Some of the following inventions were funded by the National Research Council of Canada, which has been an important factor in innovation and technological advancement in the country.

Top Canadian Inventions

From AC radio tubes to zippers, these accomplishments are in the areas of sports, medicine and science, communications, entertainment, agriculture, manufacturing, and day-to-day necessities.

Sports

InventionDescription
5 Pin BowlingA Canadian sport invented by T.E. Ryan of Toronto in 1909
BasketballInvented by Canada-born James Naismith in 1891
Goalie MaskInvented by Jaques Plante in 1960
Lacrosse

Codified by William George Beers around 1860

Ice HockeyInvented in 19th-century Canada

 

Medicine and Science

InventionDescription
Able WalkerThe walker was patented by Norm Rolston in 1986 
Access BarPatented food bar designed to help burn fat by Dr. Larry Wang
AbdominizerThe infomercial exercise darling invented by Dennis Colonello in 1984
AcetyleneThomas L. Wilson invented the production process in 1892
Acetylene BuoyInvented by Thomas L. Wilson in 1904
Analytical Plotter3D map-making system invented by Uno Vilho Helava in 1957
Bone Marrow Compatibility TestInvented by Barbara Bain in 1960
BromineA process to extract bromine was invented by Herbert Henry Dow in 1890
Calcium CarbideThomas Leopold Willson invented a process for calcium carbide in 1892
Electron MicroscopeEli Franklin Burton, Cecil Hall, James Hillier, and Albert Prebus coinvented the electron microscope in 1937
Cardiac PacemakerInvented by Dr. John A. Hopps in 1950
Insulin ProcessFrederick Banting, J.J.R. Macleod, Charles Best, and James Collip invented the process for insulin in 1922
Java Programming LanguageSoftware programming language invented by James Gosling in 1994
KeroseneInvented by Dr. Abraham Gesner in 1846
Process to Extract Helium from Natural GasInvented by Sir John Cunningham McLennan in 1915
Prosthetic HandAn electric prosthetic invented by Helmut Lucas in 1971
Silicon Chip Blood AnalyzerInvented by Imants Lauks in 1986
Synthetic SucroseInvented by Dr. Raymond Lemieux in 1953

Transportation

InventionDescription
Air-Conditioned Railway CoachInvented by Henry Ruttan in 1858
AndromononThree-wheeled vehicle invented in 1851 by Thomas Turnbull
Automatic FoghornThe first steam foghorn was invented by Robert Foulis in 1859
Antigravity SuitInvented by Wilbur Rounding Franks in 1941, a suit for high-altitude jet pilots
Compound Steam EngineInvented by Benjamin Franklin Tibbetts in 1842
CPR MannequinInvented by Dianne Croteau in 1989
Electric Car HeaterThomas Ahearn invented the first electric car heater in 1890
Electric StreetcarJohn Joseph Wright invented an electric streetcar in 1883
Electric WheelchairGeorge Klein of Hamilton, Ontario, invented the first electric wheelchair for World War II veterans
Hydrofoil BoatCoinvented by Alexander Graham Bell and Casey Baldwin in 1908
JetlinerThe first commercial jetliner to fly in North America was designed by James Floyd in 1949. The first test flight of the Avro Jetliner was on August 10, 1949.
OdometerInvented by Samuel McKeen in 1854
R-Theta Navigation SystemInvented by J.E.G. Wright in 1958
Railway Car BrakeInvented by George B. Dorey in 1913
Railway Sleeper CarInvented by Samuel Sharp in 1857
Rotary Railroad SnowplowInvented by J.E. Elliott in 1869
Screw PropellerShip's propeller invented by John Patch in 1833
SnowmobileInvented by Joseph-Armand Bombardier in 1958
Variable Pitch Aircraft PropellerInvented by Walter Rupert Turnbull in 1922

Communication/Entertainment

InventionDescription
AC Radio TubeInvented by Edward Samuels Rogers in 1925
Automatic Postal SorterIn 1957, Maurice Levy invented a postal sorter that could handle 200,000 letters an hour
Computerized BrailleInvented by Roland Galarneau in 1972
Creed Telegraph SystemFredrick Creed invented a way to convert Morse Code to text in 1900
Electric OrganMorse Robb of Belleville, Ontario, patented the world's first electric organ in 1928
FathometerAn early form of sonar invented by Reginald A. Fessenden in 1919
Film ColorizationInvented by Wilson Markle in 1983
GramophoneCoinvented by Alexander Graham Bell and Emile Berliner in 1889
Imax Movie SystemCoinvented in 1968 by Grahame Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, and Robert Kerr
Music SynthesizerInvented by Hugh Le Caine in 1945
NewsprintInvented by Charles Fenerty in 1838
PagerInvented by Alfred J. Gross in 1949
Portable Film Developing SystemInvented by Arthur Williams McCurdy in 1890, but he sold the patent to George Eastman in 1903
Quartz ClockWarren Marrison developed the first quartz clock
Radio-Transmitted VoiceMade possible by invention of Reginald A. Fessenden in 1904
Standard TimeInvented by Sir Sanford Fleming in 1878
Stereo-Orthography Map Making SystemInvented by T.J. Blachut, Stanley Collins in 1965
Television SystemReginald A. Fessenden patented a television system in 1927
Television CameraInvented by F.C.P. Henroteau in 1934
TelephoneInvented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell 
Telephone HandsetInvented by Cyril Duquet in 1878
Tone-to-Pulse ConverterInvented by Michael Cowpland in 1974
Undersea Telegraph CableInvented by Fredrick Newton Gisborne in 1857
Walkie-TalkiesInvented by Donald L. Hings in 1942
Wireless RadioInvented by Reginald A. Fessenden in 1900
WirephotoEdward Samuels Rogers invented the first in 1925

Manufacturing and Agriculture

InventionDescription
Automatic Machinery LubricatorOne of the many inventions of Elijah McCoy
Agrifoam Crop Cold ProtectorCoinvented in 1967 by D. Siminovitch & J.W. Butler
CanolaDeveloped from natural rapeseed by NRC personnel in the 1970s.
Half-Tone EngravingCoinvented by Georges Edouard Desbarats and William Augustus Leggo in 1869
Marquis WheatCultivar of wheat used worldwide and invented by Sir Charles E. Saunders in 1908
McIntosh AppleDiscovered by John McIntosh in 1796
Peanut ButterAn early form of peanut butter was first patented by Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884
PlexiglasPolymerized methyl methacrylate invented by William Chalmers in 1931
Potato DiggerInvented by Alexander Anderson in 1856
Robertson ScrewInvented by Peter L. Robertson in 1908
Rotary Blow Molding MachinePlastic bottle maker invented by Gustave Côté in 1966
SlickLickerMade for cleaning oil spills and patented by Richard Sewell in 1970
Superphosphate FertilizerInvented by Thomas L. Wilson in 1896
UV-degradable PlasticsInvented by Dr. James Guillet in 1971
Yukon Gold PotatoDeveloped by Gary R. Johnston in 1966

Household and Everyday Life

InventionDescription
Canada Dry Ginger AleInvented in 1907 by John A. McLaughlin
Chocolate Nut BarArthur Ganong made the first nickel bar in 1910
Electric Cooking RangeThomas Ahearn invented the first in 1882
Electric LightbulbHenry Woodward invented the electric lightbulb in 1874 and sold the patent to Thomas Edison
Garbage Bag (polyethylene)Invented by Harry Wasylyk in 1950
Green InkCurrency ink invented by Thomas Sterry Hunt in 1862
Instant Mashed PotatoesDehydrated potato flakes were invented by Edward A. Asselbergs in 1962
Jolly JumperBaby bouncer for prewalking babies invented by Olivia Poole in 1959
Lawn SprinklerAnother invention made by Elijah McCoy
Lightbulb LeadsLeads made of nickel and iron alloy were invented by Reginald A. Fessenden in 1892
Paint RollerInvented by Norman Breakey of Toronto in 1940
Polypump Liquid DispenserHarold Humphrey made pumpable liquid hand soap possible in 1972
Rubber Shoe HeelsElijah McCoy patented an important improvement to rubber heels in 1879
Safety Paint A high-reflectivity paint invented by Neil Harpham in 1974
SnowblowerInvented by Arthur Sicard in 1925
Trivial PursuitInvented in 1979 by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott
Tuck-Away-Handle Beer CartonInvented by Steve Pasjac in 1957
ZipperInvented by Gideon Sundback in 1913

Are You a Canadian Inventor?

Were you born in Canada, are you a Canadian citizen, or are you a professional living in Canada? Do you have an idea you think may be a moneymaker and you do not know how to proceed?

There are a number of ways to find Canadian funding, innovation information, research money, grants, awards, venture capital, Canadian inventor support groups, and the Canadian government patent offices. A good place to start is the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.  

Sources:

Carleton University, Science Technology Centre

Canadian Patent Office

National Capitol Commission

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Bellis, Mary. "Top 100 Inventions Made in Canada." ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/made-in-canada-1991456. Bellis, Mary. (2017, October 29). Top 100 Inventions Made in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/made-in-canada-1991456 Bellis, Mary. "Top 100 Inventions Made in Canada." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/made-in-canada-1991456 (accessed November 21, 2017).