12 things you didn’t know were invented by Canadians

The paint roller, highway lines, the Wonderbra and more



1. Kitchen garbage bags: Three men—Harry Wasylyk, Larry Hansen and Frank Plomp—all separately came up with the idea in the 1950s.

2. Lawn sprinkler
: Invented in 1920 by Elijah McCoy, the son of runaway slaves in Ontario. McCoy was one of Canada’s most prolific inventors. Among his other 56 creations: the ironing board.

3. Odometers
: In 1854, Nova Scotia’s Samuel McKeen put a device on his carriage to measure wheel turns.

4. Robertson square-headed screwdriver: Invented by P.L Robertson in 1908.

5. Walkie-talkie
: Alfred Gross invented the walkie-talkie in 1938.

6. Instant replays: In 1955, CBC producer George Retzlaff introduced the world to
the first in-game sport replays.

7. Bloody Caesar: Invented in 1969 by restaurateur Walter
Chell in honour of a new Italian restaurant that opened in Calgary.

8. Wonderbra: Invented by Louise Poirier who, in 1963, was working for a Montreal-based lingerie company.

9. Five-pin bowling: Invented by T.E. Ryan of Toronto in 1909.

10. Paint roller: Invented by Norman Breakey of Toronto in 1940.

11. Pablum: Created by researchers at the University of Toronto in 1930. Royalties from its sales continue to support research at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

12. Road lines: Yes, there was a time when drivers had no lanes to stay
in, until 1930 when John Millar, an Ontario engineer, thought up the simple idea of painting lines on roads.

Sources: Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, various websites

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12 things you didn’t know were invented by Canadians

  1. Butter tarts – one of few original Canadian recipes and I believe it is the only food product that can’t be bought anywhere else in world. I have done much traveling over the years and have eaten poutine and nanaimo bars outside Canada but never butter tarts.

    • They have butter tarts here at walmart in Oklahoma but they’re no where near as good as any butter tart that I’ve had when home visiting in Ontario :)

  2. Now that we’ve listed the trivia, how about insulin, Canadarm, stem cells, snow on Mars……

    • I think the assumption is that these are things that people generally know are invented in Canada.

      I didn’t realise Canadians invented snow on Mars though, I must admit.

      • I think it makes Canada sound routine and dull, when we’ve actually done some amazing things.

        • But I guess some people would rather be routine and dull.

      • Oh yeah. We launched a bunch of snowballs at Mars from the space shuttle using the Canadarm. Good times.

  3. What about Banting and Insulin? There is a monument to him in London, Ontario

  4. Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans canadians sold the rights to the light bulb to Edison

  5. Canadians also invented politeness, tolerance, patience,……………and hockey.

    • You forgot humility, and broken arms from patting oneself on the back.

  6. Dr Fleming isolated and developed penicillin, and saved my life in 1942.
    Mr Garrand invented the M1 rifle which was carried by millions of USA
    forces in WW11. Mine was serial # 5696392.
    David Mackay calculated the dimensions of the sailing ship which were used
    to build the “Yankee Clipper”. USA became a great trading nation with
    what the “Yankee Clipper” carried.
    A Mr Molson brewed Molson Golden Ale ! Thanks.

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