Beat your chest – Western Canada has inventions worth bragging about

Beat your chest – Western Canada has inventions worth bragging about

Yeah, we Canadians are a quiet lot, aren’t we? Western Canadians even more so than the rest of the country. Maybe it’s because in comparison, the western cities are so young. Toronto incorporated in 1793 while cities like Calgary and Vancouver were founded almost 100 years later. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy. Some Western Canadians have added some pretty darn important inventions and discoveries to the proud history of Canada. Take a look.

Wave that maple leaf!

The proud red and white flag with that symbolic maple leaf was designed by a Calgarian. George F. Stanley was born in Calgary in 1907 and was brilliant from the start. He was a Rhodes Scholar, earned a bunch of degrees, taught at a few universities and in the army and was a fine hockey player too. He was also a proud Canadian and saw the importance of unity. In 1964 when the parliamentarians were arguing over flag designs, Stanley created a distinctly Canadian design. Bold colours with one solitary maple leaf so the flag was undoubtedly Canadian from either side. His statement was that it “must avoid the use of national or racial symbols that are of a divisive nature.” Brilliant. It is never confused with any other country.

Don’t put your eggs in one basket isn’t just a saying

Before the invention of the egg carton, eggs truly were carried in an egg basket which resulted in a percentage always breaking on the way to market. When Joseph Coyle, the publisher of the Interior News from Smithers, BC heard an argument between a hotelier and the deliveryman over the yolky mess, he devised a plan to reduce breakage. In 1911 he invented the cartons with individual pockets and set about crafting them by hand. The demand was so great for the “Coyle Cartons” that he swiftly created a machine and patented his idea in 1918. He quit working as a newsman and focused on his cartons. Unfortunately, many stole the idea and he didn’t amass the millions he deserved. But we can thank him for cracking the case.

Bear-proof bins invented in Lethbridge

Bears are brilliant and they are quick to take advantage of the stupidity of lazy humans. Why forage for berries when there’s leftover burgers in open-topped garbage cans? Haul-All of Lethbridge knew about the problem and decided to take action. Thirty years ago, they designed the first Bear-Tight containers that are now in over 250 national, provincial and state parks across Canada and the United States. That tricky handle that you have to push in to release the lid is simple yet stumps the brilliant bears and any other animals. Dr. Stephen Herrero, the leading authority on bear behaviour from the University of Calgary said of the Hyd-A-Way, “This single product has done more to save the lives of bears and people than any single thing I can think of.” Haul-All put a lid on that problem for good.

Heat-from-your-hand flashlight set to light the world.

Yesterday’s science fair geeks turn into todays leaders in innovation. Take for instance Ann Makosinski of Victoria B.C. When Ann found out a friend in the Philippines couldn’t study because she couldn’t afford the electricity to power a light, Ann set out to design the “Hollow Flashlight” that runs off the heat from your hand. That entry won several awards in the 2013 Canada-wide Science Fair. She was only 16 when she designed it. Her prototype has been modified and has garnered interest for commercial production. The humble scientist now studying at UBC wants to provide the flashlight free-of-charge to people in developing countries.

I’ll drink and eat to that

So while you wave that flag on Canada Day, raise your glass full of the spicy Calgary cocktail called the Caesar and wish the country “Happy sesquicentennial.” Then dig into a big slice of the sweet Vancouver Island dessert – the Nanaimo Bar. What could be more Western Canadian than that?

Know of any other Western Canadian inventions? Add it to our list.