11 inventions, people and foods you probably didn’t know were Canadian

Click to play video: 'The Canadian connection: List of things you didn’t know were Canadian' The Canadian connection: List of things you didn’t know were Canadian
What does Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, alkaline batteries and the California sushi roll all have in common? Their connection to Canada, of course – Jun 8, 2017

Canada has had a pretty significant hand in shaping the world’s history.

From life-saving inventions, science, food and even Hollywood, Canada’s presence can be seen and felt everywhere.

READ MORE: Here are our 10 picks for Canada’s greatest brands of all time

But as the list of our country’s contributions continues to grow, there are so many inventions and people who have a connection to Canada that many Canadians themselves don’t know about or may have forgotten. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just with such a long and growing list of things to boast about, we just can’t keep up.

So with Canada’s big birthday party just around the corner, let’s celebrate some of those accomplishments that may have taken a back seat in recent years, ones that will surely continue to fuel Canadian pride well passed July 1.

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And not to brag or anything, but without Canada’s touch, the world would be a little less red and white.

So in honour of the unknown and forgotten in Canada’s own history, here’s a list of inventions and people you probably didn’t know were Canadian.

(To view the complete list, view the video above.)

The light bulb

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We’ve all come to know that American-born inventor Thomas Edison was the one responsible for bringing light into all living rooms around the world, when in reality it was Canadian man Henry Woodward.

Initially, Woodward was a medical student in Toronto, possibly with the Toronto School of Medicine at either Victoria College or Trinity Medical School, according to the University of Toronto.

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In 1873, Woodward and his neighbour Matthew Evans, who was a hotel keeper, began working on the idea of an electric light bulb and were shortly after granted a Canadian patent.

However, due to the inability to raise sufficient funds to take their idea further than the drawing board they abandoned the project. So in 1879 Edison purchased the patent from Woodward and Evans, refined the process and took it to commercialization.

Wireless radio

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Guglielmo Marconi may be known for sending the first one-way Morse code radio transmission in 1901 (from England to Newfoundland), but it was Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden who was able to send the first wireless two-way voice transmission by radio in 1906 (between Scotland and Massachusetts).

According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Fessenden attended Bishop’s University in Quebec. Afterwards, he joined Thomas Edison’s laboratory in 1886, later moving on to work for Westinghouse, the U.S. Weather Service and two American universities. And in 1902, he formed his own company.

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After accomplishing the first voice transmission by radio 1906, Fessenden achieved another first by making the first public broadcast of music and voice.

However, he lost control of his company in 1910 and lived out his days by continuing his research in seclusion.

Fessenden is also known for several other “firsts” in radio history, including the superheterodyne principle, which is the basis of all modern broadcasting.

Many of his patents were adopted without his consent during the First World War, but in 1928 the US Radio Trust paid him $2.5 million in recognition for his works in radio technology.


Brother-sister acting duo Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine

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Actress Shirley MacLaine, best known for films like The Apartment and Steel Magnolias, was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1937. Her brother and fellow actor Warren Beatty, as seen in films like Bonnie and Clyde and Rules Don’t Apply, was also born in Richmond, Virginia in 1937, Biography states.

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But their mother, Kathlyn Corinne (born MacLean), was a drama teacher from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, making these two silver screen veterans half Canadian, according to Acadia University.

Corinne was an artist, actress and student at Acadia University. During her time in university, Corinne was awarded an A for her involvement in drama and athletics on campus.

Two of MacLaine’s and Beatty’s aunts also attended Acadia – Alexandra Eaton and Virginia MacLeod. Their grandmother, Blanche MacLean, was also Dean of Women and taught elocution.

Elizabeth Arden

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You might know the name from fragrances and other beauty products, but this American company all started because of one Canadian woman named Florence Nightingale Graham.

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Graham was born in rural Woodbride, Ont., in 1884 and was the fifth of five children, according to Biography.

She initially studied nursing but became interested in the lotions used in burn treatments. It wasn’t until 1908 when Graham moved to New York City, where she worked as a beautician’s assistant to Eleanor Adair. Two years later, after feeling as though she had gained the industry experience she needed, Graham opened her first salon on Fifth Avenue with her business partner, Elizabeth Hubbard. The partnership, however, folded in 1914.

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She stayed within the industry, renaming her salon Elizabeth Arden, and grew her business by developing lotions and face creams.

And because makeup was widely regarded as something used only by prostitutes at that time, Graham worked on a marketing campaign to change the public’s view of such beauty products – which, thanks to the growing use of makeup in movies, became a successful campaign.

By 1915 Arden became international, opening salons in Paris, South America and Australia. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Graham was also known for her support of women’s rights as a suffragette. In fact, the red lipstick worn by the 15,000 women during the 1912 women’s march as a sign of solidarity was supplied by Elizabeth Arden. She was also a pioneer of travel-sized items and was the first to offer in-store makeovers.

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Graham died at the age of 81 in New York City on Oct. 18, 1966.

Hawaiian pizza

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For some people, pineapple on pizza makes sense, while for others it doesn’t. Well, the world can thank a London, Ont., diner for the invention of the Hawaiian pizza, possibly the most divisive pizza ever created.

And it all started with a man named Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant who moved to Canada in 1954.

Panopoulos and his brother owned a diner called Satellite Restaurant, and one day over half a century ago, the two sprinkled some canned pineapple onto a pizza to see what it would taste like.

“We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste,” Panopoulas, 83, told the BBC. “We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”

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Not sure if their concoction would appeal to others, they tested it out with some of their customers and within a couple of months it became a hit.

Panopoulos believes the pizza became a favourite because it pushed the boundaries of pizza toppings, which were mostly restricted to bacon, pepperoni and mushrooms at the time.

“People didn’t go for a lot of different tastes and foods, you know,” he said. “The only thing you could find then sweet-and-sour was Chinese, nothing else. Everything else was plain.”

And that, folks, is the modest story of the world’s most controversial pizza.

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