Canadian Inventions: Fantastic Feats and Quirky Contraptions


144 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894864-31-X
DDC 609.71





Reviewed by Alex Curran

Alex Curran is a former member of both the National Advisory Board on
Science and Technology and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council. He was chair of the Telecommunications Sectoral Advisory
Committee on Free Trade and the first recipien


Canadians have chosen to live in a harsh climate. Fortunately there is
no oath of allegiance requiring acceptance without modification of all
the conditions imposed by nature. In fact, the challenges of climate
have encouraged many to use their inventive imagination to make life
easier, more productive, and more pleasant. Some of their stories are
described in this book.

The book has two lists. The first comprises a group of 24 projects and
the key people involved in them. Among these inventions are the
telephone and radio broadcasting, which overcame distance as an
impediment to community interaction; basketball, a sport creating
involvement and competition; and, to ensure that health is not
sacrificed, insulin.

The second list is longer and more varied, and focuses on unusual
inventions of specific interest to Canadians, such as a mechanical skirt
lifter to protect milady’s clothes from the mud of early roads, and,
to ensure that labour productivity is not ignored, the invention that
links the butter churn to the kitchen rocking chair.

A third list is implicit. It is an examination of projects to identify
reasons for unexpected difficulties—or even failure—and of the steps
taken to rectify the problems. In the insulin project, for example, no
one seemed to anticipate the impact created by the question of who
should gain public recognition. The disposable-ship project failed when
the cargo destination was not identified.

Invention is an exciting and valuable process. It should attract some
of our finest technical minds. This book can be a resource to attract
those fine minds at the high-school level.


Wojna, Lisa., “Canadian Inventions: Fantastic Feats and Quirky Contraptions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,