Top 100 Inventions Made in Canada

Red, wet maple leaves arranged to make a Canadian flag
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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. According to Canadian author Roy Mayer in his book "Inventing Canada: 100 Years of Innovation": 

"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."

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

Invention Description
5 Pin Bowling A Canadian sport invented by T.E. Ryan of Toronto in 1909
Basketball Invented by Canada-born James Naismith in 1891
Goalie Mask Invented by professional hockey goal tender Jacques Plante in 1960
Lacrosse

Codified by William George Beers around 1860

Ice Hockey Invented in 19th-century Canada

Medicine and Science

Invention Description
Able Walker The walker to help disabled people's mobility was patented by Norm Rolston in 1986
Access Bar Patented food bar designed to help burn fat by Dr. Larry Wang
Abdominizer The infomercial exercise darling invented by Dennis Colonello in 1984
Acetylene Thomas L. Wilson invented the production process in 1892
Acetylene Gas Buoy Navigational tool for lighthouses, invented by Thomas L. Wilson in 1904
Analytical Plotter 3D map-making system invented by Uno Vilho Helava in 1957
Bone Marrow Compatibility Test Invented by Barbara Bain in 1960
Bromine A process to extract bromine was invented by Herbert Henry Dow in 1890
Calcium Carbide Thomas Leopold Willson invented a process for calcium carbide in 1892
Electron Microscope Eli Franklin Burton, Cecil Hall, James Hillier, and Albert Prebus co-invented the electron microscope in 1937
Cardiac Pacemaker Invented by Dr. John A. Hopps in 1950
Insulin Process Frederick Banting, J.J.R. Macleod, Charles Best, and James Collip invented the process for insulin in 1922
Java Programming Language A software programming language invented by James Gosling in 1994
Kerosene Invented by Dr. Abraham Gesner in 1846
The Process to Extract Helium from Natural Gas Invented by Sir John Cunningham McLennan in 1915
Prosthetic Hand An electric prosthetic invented by Helmut Lucas in 1971
Silicon Chip Blood Analyzer Invented by Imants Lauks in 1986
Synthetic Sucrose Invented by Dr. Raymond Lemieux in 1953

Transportation

Invention Description
Air-Conditioned Railway Coach Invented by Henry Ruttan in 1858
Andromonon Three-wheeled vehicle invented in 1851 by Thomas Turnbull
Automatic Foghorn The first steam foghorn was invented by Robert Foulis in 1859
Antigravity Suit Invented by Wilbur Rounding Franks in 1941, a suit for high-altitude jet pilots
Compound Steam Engine Invented by Benjamin Franklin Tibbetts in 1842
CPR Mannequin Invented by Dianne Croteau in 1989
Electric Car Heater Thomas Ahearn invented the first electric car heater in 1890
Electric Streetcar John Joseph Wright invented an electric streetcar in 1883
Electric Wheelchair George Klein of Hamilton, Ontario, invented the first electric wheelchair for World War II veterans
Hydrofoil Boat Co-invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Casey Baldwin in 1908
Jetliner The 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.
Odometer Invented by Samuel McKeen in 1854
R-Theta Navigation System Invented to enable polar coordinate aviation navigation by J.E.G. Wright in 1958
Railway Car Brake Invented by George B. Dorey in 1913
Railway Sleeper Car Invented by Samuel Sharp in 1857
Rotary Railroad Snowplow Invented by J.E. Elliott in 1869
Screw Propeller Ship's propeller invented by John Patch in 1833
Snowmobile Invented by Joseph-Armand Bombardier in 1958
Variable Pitch Aircraft Propeller Invented by Walter Rupert Turnbull in 1922

Communication/Entertainment

Invention Description
AC Radio Tube Invented by Edward Samuels Rogers in 1925
Automatic Postal Sorter In 1957, Maurice Levy invented a postal sorter that could handle 200,000 letters an hour
Computerized Braille Invented by Roland Galarneau in 1972
Creed Telegraph System Fredrick Creed invented a way to convert Morse Code to text in 1900
Electric Organ Morse Robb of Belleville, Ontario, patented the world's first electric organ in 1928
Fathometer An early form of sonar invented by Reginald A. Fessenden in 1919
Film Colorization Invented by Wilson Markle in 1983
Gramophone Co-invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Emile Berliner in 1889
Imax Movie System Co-invented in 1968 by Grahame Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, and Robert Kerr
Music Synthesizer Invented by Hugh Le Caine in 1945
Newsprint Invented by Charles Fenerty in 1838
Pager Invented by Alfred J. Gross in 1949
Portable Film Developing System Invented by Arthur Williams McCurdy in 1890, but he sold the patent to George Eastman in 1903
Quartz Clock Warren Marrison developed the first quartz clock
Radio-Transmitted Voice Made possible by the invention of Reginald A. Fessenden in 1904
Standard Time Invented by Sir Sanford Fleming in 1878
Stereo-Orthography Map Making System Invented by T.J. Blachut, Stanley Collins in 1965
Television System Reginald A. Fessenden patented a television system in 1927
Television Camera Invented by F.C.P. Henroteau in 1934
Telephone Invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell
Telephone Handset Invented by Cyril Duquet in 1878
Tone-to-Pulse Converter Invented by Michael Cowpland in 1974, to use rotary phones in modern button phone systems.
Undersea Telegraph Cable Invented by Fredrick Newton Gisborne in 1857
Walkie-Talkies Invented by Donald L. Hings in 1942
Wireless Radio Invented by Reginald A. Fessenden in 1900
Wirephoto Edward Samuels Rogers invented the first way to transmit pictures by telegraph, telephone, or radio in 1925

Manufacturing and Agriculture

Invention Description
Automatic Machinery Lubricator One of the many inventions of Elijah McCoy
Agrifoam Crop Cold Protector Co-invented in 1967 by D. Siminovitch & J.W. Butler
Canola Developed from natural rapeseed by NRC personnel in the 1970s.
Half-Tone Engraving Co-invented by Georges Edouard Desbarats and William Augustus Leggo in 1869
Marquis Wheat The cultivar of wheat used worldwide and invented by Sir Charles E. Saunders in 1908
McIntosh Apple Discovered by John McIntosh in 1796
Peanut Butter An early form of peanut butter was first patented by Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884
Plexiglas Polymerized methyl methacrylate invented by William Chalmers in 1931
Potato Digger Invented by Alexander Anderson in 1856
Robertson Screw Invented by Peter L. Robertson in 1908
Rotary Blow Molding Machine Plastic bottle maker invented by Gustave Côté in 1966
SlickLicker Made for cleaning oil spills and patented by Richard Sewell in 1970
Superphosphate Fertilizer Invented by Thomas L. Wilson in 1896
UV-degradable Plastics Invented by Dr. James Guillet in 1971
Yukon Gold Potato Developed by Gary R. Johnston in 1966

Household and Everyday Life

Invention Description
Canada Dry Ginger Ale Invented in 1907 by John A. McLaughlin
Chocolate Nut Bar Arthur Ganong made the first nickel bar in 1910
Electric Cooking Range Thomas Ahearn invented the first in 1882
Electric Lightbulb Henry Woodward invented the electric lightbulb in 1874 and sold the patent to Thomas Edison
Garbage Bag (polyethylene) Invented by Harry Wasylyk in 1950
Green Ink Currency ink invented by Thomas Sterry Hunt in 1862
Instant Mashed Potatoes Dehydrated potato flakes were invented by Edward A. Asselbergs in 1962
Jolly Jumper Baby bouncer for prewalking babies invented by Olivia Poole in 1959
Lawn Sprinkler Another invention made by Elijah McCoy
Lightbulb Leads Leads made of nickel and iron alloy were invented by Reginald A. Fessenden in 1892
Paint Roller Invented by Norman Breakey of Toronto in 1940
Polypump Liquid Dispenser Harold Humphrey made pumpable liquid hand soap possible in 1972
Rubber Shoe Heels Elijah McCoy patented an important improvement to rubber heels in 1879
Safety Paint A high-reflectivity paint invented by Neil Harpham in 1974
Snowblower Invented by Arthur Sicard in 1925
Trivial Pursuit Invented in 1979 by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott
Tuck-Away-Handle Beer Carton Invented by Steve Pasjac in 1957
Zipper Invented 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
  • Mayer, Roy. "Inventing Canada: 100 Years of Innovation." Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1997.