25 awesome gifts Canada has given the world

Butter tarts


1. Insulin

Insulin was discovered by Dr. Frederick Banting and his assistant, Charles Best, at the University of Toronto in the summer of 1921. Banting and colleague J.J.R Macleod won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923, which they then shared with Best and another collaborator, James Collip.

2. Basketball

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Canadian James Naismith, who was working at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, invented basketball in 1891 as a way to keep his students active during the winter.

3. Superman

Canadian Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel first thought of the idea for Superman when they were students at Glenville High School in Cleveland. The Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association created an award in Shuster’s name in 2005.


Developed by Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, Robert Kerr, and William C. Shaw, the IMAX film format made its debut in Osaka, Japan in 1970. The world’s first permanent IMAX theatre opened at Ontario Place’s Cinesphere in 1971.

5. Poutine

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Poutine has several creation stories, but the most widespread one credits Warwick, Quebec restaurant Le Lutin Qui Rit with its origin. According to the story, when asked to combine fries, cheese curds, and gravy, restaurant owner Fernand Lachance exclaimed, “Ça va te faire une maudite poutine,” or “That will make a terrible mess.” The rest is cheesy, gooey history.

6. Nanaimo bars

Named after the city in British Columbia, Nanaimo bars are no-bake confections of chocolate, coconut, and butter icing that first appeared in cookbooks in the early 1950s.

7. Butter tarts

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While they’ve been compared to American-style pecan pie, butter tarts are nonetheless a uniquely Canadian dessert.

8. Caesars

Caesars were first concocted in 1969 by bartender Walter Chell, who celebrated the opening of the Calgary Inn with clammier, spicier Canadian version of a Bloody Mary.

9. McIntosh apples

John McIntosh is credited with discovering the first McIntosh tree on his Upper Canada farm in 1811, breeding the fruit and grafting the tree to eventually create the ubiquitous, all-purpose apple we know today.

10. AM radio

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The first amplitude modulation (AM) voice transmission was made by prolific Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden in 1900, paving the way for widespread radio broadcasting over the next 20 years.

11. Instant replay

Instant—actually several minutes later—replay was first pioneered during a Hockey Night in Canada game in 1955 by producer George Retzlaff. It took several more years for instant replay to become a standard element of sports broadcasts.

12. BlackBerry

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The very first BlackBerry was a wireless email pager released in Munich in 1999, released 15 years after Mike Lazaridis started Research In Motion.

13. Electron microscope

Although electron microscopes existed in prototype in 1931, the first practical model was built in 1938 by University of Toronto physicist Eli Franklin Burton and his three students.

14. Snowmobiles

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Today’s snowmobile has its origins in a crude motorized sled built by Joseph-Armand Bombardier in 1922, when he was just 25. Bombardier received a patent for his continuous track-drive mechanism in 1935.

15. Steam-powered foghorn

The inventor of the first automated steam-powered foghorn was Scottish-born Robert Foulis, who presented his designs to the Commissioners of Lighthouses for the Bay of Fundy. The commissioners then passed his plans on to another engineer, who got the original credit for the invention.

16. Snowblower

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Although patents are on file for “snow excavators” as early as 1870, it was Quebecer Arthur Sicard who built the first practical snowblower in 1925.

17. Sonar

In 1912, Canadian engineer Reginald Fessenden (who is also credited with inventing AM radio among many other technological innovations) helped develop an oscillator that allowed submarines to conduct depth sounding, underwater communication, and echo ranging. Canadian physicist Robert William Boyle introduced a sonar prototype in mid-1917.

18. Athletic cup

Although the jockstrap was invented by a Chicago sporting goods company in 1874, it wasn’t until Guelph Elastic Hosiery in Guelph, Ontario added a hard plastic cup to the set-up that men everywhere were able to breathe a little more easily.

19. Five-pin bowling

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It was developed by Torontonian Thomas F. Ryan at the Toronto Bowling Club for patrons who couldn’t quite handle the effort of the regular 10-pin game.

20. Jolly Jumper

Invented by Susan Olivia Poole in 1910, the Jolly Jumper is still being produced in Mississauga, Ontario—much to the relief of parents who need help with squirmy babies.

21. Pablum

Pablum was developed by Canadian pediatricians Frederick Tisdall, Theodore Drake, and Alan Brown, and was the first baby food to be sold pre-cooked and dried. Fortified with vitamin D, iron, and other vitamins and minerals, Pablum helped prevent rickets and other childhood diseases associated with malnutrition.

22. Paint roller

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DIYers everywhere can thank Norman Breakey for the basic design of the paint roller, although he was never able to produce his 1940 invention in large enough quantities to make a profit.

23. Trivial Pursuit

Montreal journalists Chris Haney and Scott Abbott came up with the idea for Trivial Pursuit after their Scrabble game was thwarted by missing pieces. Released in 1982, the game’s popularity peaked two years later, when more than 20 million games were sold.

24. Egg carton

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BC newspaper publisher Joseph Coyle overheard an argument between a frustrated hotelier and an egg deliveryman in 1911, and the rest is dairy history. Patented in 1918, the Coyle carton was popular, but didn’t manage to make its inventor a great deal of money.

25. Table hockey

Leave it to Canadians to figure out a way to play hockey inside. In 1932, in the depths of the Depression, Torontonian Donald Munro built a tabletop game that involved players using levers and flippers to move the puck around the playing surface. Munro initially sold the game on consignment at Eaton’s—the start of decades of friendly and not-so-friendly competition.