Oh, Canada! July 1st is Canada Day! Today, we’re honoring Canadian invention makers from far and wide. Indeed, Canada has a rich history of inventions and inventors that changed the world.
The Fiberglass Hockey Goalie Mask
It wouldn’t be Canadian of us if we didn’t mention hockey now, would it? Indeed, here’s a problem really worth solving. They say hockey goalies are a different breed (honestly, they’re downright insane to be playing that position). Yet we imagine it can’t be very fun to be pelted over and over by a frozen rubber biscuit, in the face no less. Yes, one of the greatest Canadian invention makers is also one of the greatest ice hockey goalies of all time. While he wasn’t the first to wear a mask in a hockey game, Jacques Plante paved the way and popularized fiberglass goalie masks in the NHL.
Constructed at home, mostly out of fiberglass, Plante first used this mask in practices to help prevent injuries. Why fiberglass? Because of its high tensile strength, dimensional stability, and affordability compared to similar materials. On November 1st, 1959, the iconic Habs goalie debuted his mask against the Rangers. Early in the first period, Plante took a shot to the face which broke his nose. After being treated for his injury, he donned his fiberglass mask rather than sitting out the game. Even after his nose healed, Plante continued to wear the mask. And within just a few years, almost every goalie was wearing one as well.
The Electric Wheelchair
The electric wheelchair was invented by George Klein in 1953. In fact, known to many as one of the most famous Canadian invention makers in the world. Following the Second World War, many veterans required additional mobile assistance. Recognizing there could be improvements made to the manual Klein took on the task of improving the design to further assist quadriplegics. In his final design, he combined a number of existing technologies including a joystick to control the chair, tighter turning systems, and separate wheel drives. Astoundingly, the modern electric wheelchair uses many of the same features today. You can find the original prototype Canada Science and Technology Museum collection in Ottawa, Ontario.
Wireless Radio Transmission
Reginald Aubrey Fessenden was the first person to broadcast on the AM radio band. He’s recognized as one of the greatest Canadian invention makers and his achievements are often compared to other inventors such as Thomas Edison. Indeed, Reginald gave us the first wireless transmission of the human voice in recorded history. On December 23rd, 1900 at Cobb Island in Washington D.C., he successfully transmitted this sound by electromagnetic waves between two 50-foot towers. Six years later, Fessenden made history again by transmitting the first-ever radio broadcast in the world.
By 1906, Reginald had several years under his belt working on his wireless communication inventions for the National Electric Signaling Company and was able to establish transatlantic communications. To prove that this system was in fact reliable, he notified the customers to adjust their receiver’s to the company’s frequency at 9:00 PM on Christmas Eve. It was literally unheard of. People from Norfolk, Virginia were treated to the Christmas music that was being broadcasted all the way from Brant Rock. Massachusetts.
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