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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's Canada Day, Look What We Brought You

I know a lot of people look at Canada and call us Mini-America, America Lite, or the little loft apartment upstairs from where the cool people live. I often hear about my accent, which apparently causes you to think I am saying ‘a boot’ when I say about. Canada just takes all of this quietly and politely, because that’s the way we were taught. If someone steps on our foot, we should quickly apologize for our foot being in their way.

But today is July 1st. It’s Canada Day. That one day out of the year when we celebrate who we are and what we have done. We get to brag a little, but don’t worry we’ll be sure to apologize for it before your day on the 4th of July.

I thought I would use this opportunity to tell the world some of the great things Canada has brought you. Our inventors have been hard at work to make the world a better place, and most of the time they have succeeded. I say most of the time, because my father’s cousin invented powdered eggs during the Second World War, and as a result no member of my family is welcome in any Legion or VFW Hall, and we must stay at least 100 yards away from any Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or Memorial Day celebrations.

But let’s look at some Canadian inventions that were more readily accepted than powdered eggs.

It’s well known that Canadian, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and the phonograph and that Drs. Banting and Best brought us insulin, but what about our lesser known inventors like Dennis Colonello, who in 1988 brought forth the abdomonizer.

If it weren’t for the tireless efforts of Gideon Sundback, we would still be buttoning everything. Good old Gideon invented the zipper, or as he called it the hookless fastener. I think it got the name zipper just after his brother became the first man to catch his scrotum in a hookless fastener.

Trains would have run amok all over the continent if it hadn’t been for the wisdom of W.A. Robinson. One day in 1868 he said that these trains may be fine for moving people and goods across the continent, but don’t you think we should have some way of stopping them when they get to where they are going. He sat right down and invented the locomotive braking system.

The next time you find yourself glued to a television program, say “Thank you” to Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden who invented the boob tube in 1927. Apparently it was of much use until 1933, when another Canadian, Francois Henroteau invented the television camera.

Speaking of boobs, we can all thank Louise Poirier for inventing the push up bra.

If it weren’tt for the ingenuity of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaques Plante, today’s goalies, to say nothing of a variety or horror film characters, would not have the goalie mask. Mind you the whole point of the goalie mask would have been moot if we didn’t invent hockey in the first place.

We came up with a few other sports as well. I believe it was mainly so we would have something to do on weekend afternoons while we drank beer. Basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith. Football as we know it today was introduced to the United States when a team from McGill University in Montreal visited Harvard and taught them the game they had been playing in Canada against their University of Toronto rivals. Don’t even get me started on baseball, but I will say that there is a record of a game played in Ontario one year before the the celebrated game at Cooperstown, New York. They even keep the score sheet from that game at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and we had some pretty big necessities that needed taking care of up here in the Great White North. For example, Thomas Ahearn invented the car heater in 1898. Joseph Armand Bombardier came up with the snowmobile in 1922. Robert Foulis made some noise with the automatic steam driven foghorn. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the captain of the Exon Valdez, because the fog in his case was inside his head.

Arthur Ganong saw a need to expand the waistlines of children everywhere when he came up with the chocolate bar in 1913.

When you think of light bulbs you think Thomas Edison. Too bad he hadn’t invented them. The first electric light bulb was invented in 1874 by a pair of Canadians, Henry Woodward And Matthew Evans. I wonder what was above inventors heads when they had great ideas before the light bulb was invented.

Frankly, I just dont know where this world would be had Allan Yen, John Galt, Jack Locke, Norman Broten and Robin Chisholm not teamed up to bring us the Long Baseline Interferometer. I have no idea what it is, but it sounds really impressive.

Of course you can say that this is all just trivial. Trivial isn’t a bad thing, especially for Chris Haney, John Haney, and Scott Abbott. They are the guys who sat down and invented Trivial Pursuit in 1980. I still have one of the original games and it’s amazing how many of the answers are now wrong. Trivia may be trivial but it isn’t stagnant.

Sorry, but it’s Canadian. So is the green ink used in bank notes, the Blackberry smart phone, the IMAX movie system, the walkie-talkie, and 5-pin bowling.

And one final note, if I was still writing my syndicated newspaper column, you’d be reading this on another Canadian invention – newsprint.

So celebrate Canada with us today. Have a Molson's Canadian or a shot of Crown Royal. And if you do pick up a case of beer today, say a little thank you to our Steve Pasjack. IN 1957 he invented the tuck away handle for beer cases.

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Gordon Kirkland At Large

Writings and Wramblings from the Wandering and Wondering Mind of Gordon Kirkland