We all know that Canadians are behind the poutine, but Canada’s also the source of plenty of other delicious, amazing, and inspiring inventions—some of which you might use every day without even knowing it.
The Caesar cocktail is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Virtually unknown outside of the country—or even worse, dubbed the Bloody Mary to our southern neighbours—the caesar contains vodka, Clamato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, served in a celery-salt rimmed glass with a stalk of celery. The cocktails origin storydates back to Calgary in 1969, when restaurateur Walter Chell created the spicy drink for an Italian restaurant. Chell says that a spaghetti dish with tomato sauce and clams inspired the drink. Bottoms up and cheers to Canada!
If it wasn’t for a few missing Scrabble pieces, Trivial Pursuit may have never been invented. After releasing their Scrabble game was incomplete, Chris Haney, a photo editor at the Montreal Gazette, and Scott Abbott, a sports journalist for The Canadian Press, came up with the idea for trivia game within a few hours. The two friends released the game officially in 1979. Although at first unprofitable, the game peaked in 1984, selling over 20 million boards in that year alone.
Considered Canada’s quintessential dessert, the butter tart has a long, storied history in eastern Canada. The earliest published recipe dates back to 1900 when it appeared in a cookbook from Barrie, Ont. Butter tart connoisseurs will argue over the proper firmness of the pastry, the consistency of the filling and whether walnuts and raisins should be prohibited—but really, it’s all semantics. Any type of butter tart is a good butter tart in our books. A source of pride for Canadians, the butter tart is an important piece of Canada’s culinary identity. In fact, the first ever butter tart festival was held this past summer in Midland, Ont.
The Nanaimo bar
Are you team Nanaimo or team Butter Tart? If you’re from the west coast, you’re probably a fan of the three-layer bar. Named after the B.C. city, the exact year of the bar’s creation remains unknown. We do know that the earliest confirmed printed copy of the bar’s recipe—which contains a wafer crumb-based layer topped with light vanilla or custard butter icing and melted chocolate—dates back to a cookbook from 1953.
It shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that a Canadian invented the first ever snow blower. In1925, Arthur Sicard created his initial prototype based on a concept design he described in 1984. By 1927, his vehicles were being used to remove snow from the streets of Quebec. We think it’s fair to crown the snow blower as one of Canada’s most beloved inventions, especially if you have a long driveway.
The alkaline battery
Expanding on Thomas Edison’s research from 1901, engineer Lewis Urry worked on the alkaline battery using zinc/manganese dioxide chemistry in the 1950s. In 1960, the battery’s patent was approved and assigned to the Union Carbide Corporation, where Urry worked.
The garbage bag
Winnipeg-based inventor Harry Wasylyk created the first-ever disposable garbage bag in 1950. Originally, the bags were invented for commercial settings rather than homeuse. In fact, the green polyethylene bags were first sold to the Winnipeg General Hospital. They became a staple in the home in the late 1960s when Wasylyk’s partner, Larry Hansen, brought the invention to his workplace, Union Carbide Company. The creation was known as Glad garbage bags.
The goalie mask
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante designed and wore the first ever goalie mask, a crude full-face cover made of fiberglass. After getting struck in the face by a puck during a game against the New York Rangers in 1959, Plante insisted he wear his practise mask back on the ice. With his mask on, he led the Canadiens to a long winning-streak, which was broken up only when he was asked to remove the mask. Although some laughed at Plante for wearing it, the mask would eventually become standard equipment.
The egg carton
Before the egg carton, eggs were carried in wire baskets. In 1911, newspaper editor Joseph Coyle of Smithers, B.C., invented the first egg carton to prevent eggs from breakingwhile they were being delivered. At the time, a dispute between a local farmer and a hotel owner erupted over cracked eggs. Coyle stepped in and created the simple, ingenious structure to solve the problem.
The paint roller
Anyone who’s ever painted an entire house should give thanks to Norman Breakey, the man behind the paint roller. He invented the basic tool in 1940, but before he could mass-produce it for profit, others made small changes to the design and marketed it as their own invention.
The electric wheelchair
Often called Canada’s most prolific inventor from the 20th century, George Klein worked for over 40 years as a mechanical engineer at the National Research Council of Canada. Along with the first microsurgical staple gun and the Weasel all-terrain vehicle, Klein invented the electric wheelchair in 1952 to assist injured veterans after WWII.