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The Eh to Zed of Canadian-designed Invention

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Photo of a Robertson screw, half-sunk into a wooden board.

The Robertson screw is one of many examples of Canadian design that the entire world would benefit from embracing.

With all of the recent talk about Canada’s great design heritage in relation to the Canada 150 campaign controversy, along with the chest-thumping nation-wide pride resulting from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I’ve been inspired to further demonstrate our country’s history of innovation, in honour of this week’s Heritage Day in Canada.

Here is my A to Z list of inventive Canadian design-thinking world firsts (sometimes I couldn’t resist including a runner-up!). The majority of innovations also belong in the category of Do Good design!

A. alkaline battery, AM radio

B. basketball

C. Canadarm, computerized braille

D. Digisync (Emmy and Academy Award-winning motion picture bar-code reader), digital camera

E. egg carton, electric wheelchair

F. five-pin bowling

G. garbage bag, gas and goalie masks

H. hydrofoil boat,  hand prosthetic

I. Imax, instant replays and mashed potatoes

J. Jetlev water jet pack, jolly jumper

K. key frame animation, Kryptonite (and Superman)

L. lacrosse

M. McIntosh apple (the fruit, not the computer), medicinal insulin

N. Nanaimo bar, Newfoundland time (and standard time in general!)

O. oven (electric), overhead-powered streetcars

P. Pablum, (oh, how do we choose? … pacemaker, pager, paint roller, Plexiglas, poutine…)

Q. Quasiturbine

R. Robertson screw, rapeseed 00 (aka canola!)

S. SONAR, snowblowers and snowmobiles (did we invent snow days?)

T. table hockey, trackball

U. Uno motorcycle

V. Velcro

W. walkie-talkie, wheelchair accessible bus

X. the letter X in Nick Shinn’s Richler HandTooled typeface, Xbox edition of Trivial Pursuit

Y. Yukon Gold potato

Z. Zamboni, zipper

… and the 56K modem!

I’d love to hear about more Canadian-inspired firsts. Leave yours in the comments below.

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Reviewed February 18, 2014


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