Canadian tinkerers inventors scientists and engineers have changed the world

Canadian tinkerers inventors scientists and engineers have changed the world


TORONTO — Zippers. Garbage bags. Paint rollers. Some items are so ingrained in our lives we don’t stop to consider life without them — how we would do up a jacket, take out the trash or give a wall a fresh coat of paint.But without the Canadians behind these inventions, all these tasks — and many more — would prove a little more difficult.Without Joseph Leopold Coyle’s “Eureka” moment more than 100 years ago, for example, carrying eggs home from the grocery store might be a whole lot messier.“There were ways of shipping eggs before Mr. Coyle, but the modern, paper container begins with him,” says Lorne Hammond, the curator of human history at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.Coyle is among Canada’s countless tinkerers, inventors, scientists and engineers whose creations have changed the modern world. But his tale is also a cautionary one at a time Canadian governments are trying to figure out how to foster innovation that will drive the 21st century economy. While his invention remains used to this day, it never earned him a big payout.Many business leaders, academics and policy-makers say Canada must get better at converting the innovations and intellectual property that flow from its finest minds into successful global companies.Canada has a proud history of innovation and has “truly punched above its weight,” says Greg Dick, director of educational research at Perimeter Institute. The Waterloo, Ont., theoretical physics research hub is one of five organizations behind Innovation150, a year-long, cross-country tour designed to inspire youth to innovate.Perimeter itself was launched in 2000 with funds from the founders of BlackBerry, the smartphone pioneer that grew into a global player, but later lost most of its market share to foreign competitors.Dick rattles off a list of Canadian contributions to a wide variety of fields: time zones from Sir Sandford Fleming, dubbed the “Father of Standard Time;” basketball, courtesy of the imagination of Dr. James Naismith; more recently, a vaccine to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that began in 2013 designed by scientists at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.“The sunglasses for snow blindness? Invented by the Inuit in the Canadian Arctic,” he continues. “And, peanut butter? There’s a fun one. First patented by a Canadian. … We just really have done an incredible amount of contributing to society.”That’s backed up by the number of patents the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has granted since 1869, when it (then known as Consumer and Corporate Affairs) awarded Canada’s first patent to William Hamilton for his eureka fluid meter.In 1976, the federal agency granted the one millionth patent for “photodegradable polymer masterbatches” and, as of last year, surpassed 1.6 million approved patents with about 37,000 applications received annually over the past decade.But in a sign of how much innovation is going on elsewhere, only about 13 per cent of those applications come from Canadians, according to Agnes Lajoie, assistant commissioner of patents at CIPO. The organization would like that number to move higher.The office is working to raise awareness about the patent system among small- and medium-sized businesses in the country, focusing on high-growth sectors that are intellectual property intensive, like clean technology and aerospace, says Darlene Carreau, director general of CIPO’s business services branch.“Canadians are very innovative,” she says. “We don’t tend to toot our own horn or highlight our successes like other jurisdictions may, but I think we need to get better at doing that.”One of those early, little-known inventions came from Coyle, who secured a grade school education before working his way up from cleaner and newspaper delivery boy to founding The Interior News in 1910 (it continues to publish today).Back then, the paper’s office stood in what was known as Aldemere in British Columbia’s Bulkley Valley near a hotel that was the spot of frequent fighting between the hotelier and a farmer, Gabriel Lacroix. The owner hated that his regular order of eggs often arrived as a mess of runny yolks.One day, Coyle overheard this argument and that — as legend has it — was his a-ha moment. He set out to create a container to keep the eggs intact from coop to customer. In a 1917 patent application to CIPO, he described a “simple, inexpensive and safe” way to carry a dozen eggs at once in an egg box that suspended and supported each one without letting it touch the others. Coyle later obtained patents for several other countries as demand for his egg box grew.The “venture is going to beat the band and getting bigger and bigger every day,” Coyle wrote in a letter to his former newsroom colleagues in the winter of 1919, according to an article the paper published that year. A year later, however, he admitted in another article that an obstacle stood in the way of expansion: the cost of production.Coyle holed himself away for several weeks to fashion a machine that could manufacture his product less expensively and by the end of March 1920, it was operational.The newspaperman-turned-inventor also received patents for an automobile lock that prevented a steering wheel from moving until the device was removed, a match safe that divvied out one match at a time and could trim the end of a cigar, and a cash till that could separate coins by amount and dispense them individually.“He was just, sort of, an inventive soul,” says Kira Westby, the curator at the Bulkley Valley Museum in Smithers, B.C.Coyle worked with distributors and set up his own factories in Canada and America to make the cartons. But by the 1950s, Hammond says, Coyle faced major competition from others creating simpler egg cartons from plastic rather than moulded pulp.Coyle simply couldn’t keep up with the change in the industry, his daughter Ellen Myton, who died just before the new millennium at the age of 87, said when she spoke about her father’s legacy with the British Columbia Historical News in 1982.“Conversion of the plant to new machinery and methods would have involved huge expenditure,” she said.“As is so often the case with inventors, he was no match for the sharp practices of big business and their sharper lawyers,” his daughter said. “The Coyle carton made several millionaires, but dad was not one of them.”Her father died at the age of 100 on April 18, 1972. His death certificate identified him the “inventor of paper boxes.”“It’s quirky, and yet it’s everyday. Everyone’s familiar with it,” says Hammond. “We still buy eggs lined out in two rows in the same way that Coyle visualized it.”Dick believes Canadians, like Coyle, are creative, thoughtful and willing to take risks, but the Canadian psyche tends to not realize we can be world leaders.“We’re exactly at that right time in history where we can sort of shift that mind set,” he says.Among those pushing for change is former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who said in a recent essay that Canada has the most superficial discourse around innovation policy in any of the 140 countries in which he has done business. He said a successful intellectual property (IP) sector relies on a tightly designed ecosystem of highly technical interlocking policies focused on scaling up companies.The Canadian government also made innovation a focus of its March 22 budget, using the term more than 200 times. It said it would place “big bets” on sectors including clean technology, agri-food and advanced manufacturing.One area where Canada is now leading is the quantum space, Dick says, saying the country’s researchers in Waterloo, Ont., are believed to be about 15 months ahead of the rest of the world.He compares the anticipated upcoming second quantum revolution with what happened in Silicon Valley during the digital revolution.“Being ahead of the curve puts us in the ideal position to attract talent, to attract investors, to just be that hotbed of that innovation into a whole new way to see the world and to change the world.”Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.


Another brace for Gordon, as MBU win again

first_imgWESTERN BUREAU:”We can run with the fastest of them, we can play hard with the toughest of them, and still outscore the best of them,” warns hot Montego Bay United (MBU) striker Owayne Gordon, following another two goal blast that extended MBU’s lead atop the Red Stripe Premier League to five points.MBU registered a 2-0 win on Thursday night over Tivoli Gardens in a rescheduled fixture at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.The double gives Gordon four goals in two consecutive matches and thirteen in all for the season, just one goal behind out-of-action teammate Dino Williams (14) at the top of the goalscoring chart. Williams, who was spotted at Thursday’s match has inked a deal to play in the US for the remainder of the season.Gordon opened the scoring for MBU in the 32nd minute from a direct long kick from goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett.The ball took one bounce and Gordon used his speed to get by two defenders before employing a majestic chip over the advancing Davin Watkins in goal for Tivoli.His second was a superb effort from a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area in the 81st minute of play to seal victory for the title chasers, who now move five points clear of champions Arnett Gardens FC (49 pts) to be on 54 pts.The leaders were tasting victory for a fourth consecutive time in five matches and Gordon believes it will only get better from here.”The team is playing really well at the moment and with me scoring the goals, I think we are on our way to another title.”I am a confident player and right now I am feeling good. I hope my goals will take us to the Premiership title and that is all I want,” reasoned Gordon, who is emerging as MBU’s top goal getter in the absence of Williams.He enjoyed a good outing, but had to dig deep as the game became a physical affair. Both teams had their players flying into crunching tackles and both ended with 10 players after referee Danion Parchment issued red cards for dangerous tackles.MBU defender John Barrett was sent off with a straight red in the 45th minute, while Tivoli suffered the same fate in the 88th minute, when Romaine Breakenridge committed a second bookable offence.Tivoli remain just above the bottom two (Rivoli 22 pts and Waterhouse FC 21 pts). They have 29 points with the defeat that snapped their two-game mini-streak.last_img

Makyn The Shot

first_imgMakyn The Shotlast_img

Quintyne, Campbelle overlooked for Pakistan series

first_imgST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC): No room has been found for all-rounders Shaquana Quintyne and Shemaine Campbelle in a 13-member West Indies Women’s squad announced on Saturday for the one-day international (ODI) series against Pakistan starting later this month. The 19-year-old Quintyne, who captained Barbados to the regional 50-overs tournament in August, is one of five players failing to make the final cut, along with Campbelle, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack and Vanessa Watts. Selectors had called up 18 players to the ongoing camp in St Lucia, which began last month. A leg-spinner and a capable right-handed batter, Quintyne has taken 26 wickets in 29 ODIs and 31 wickets from 33 Twenty20s, but has not suited up for West Indies in nearly a year. During the regional tournament, however, she was good enough to average 46, while taking four wickets. The 22-year-old Campbelle, meanwhile, is a seasoned campaigner, having played 61 ODIs and 68 T20s, since making her debut six years ago. She has a century – 105 against Sri Lanka two years ago – and has taken 21 wickets with her medium pace. The squad, which is led by new captain Stafanie Taylor, includes former skipper Merissa Aguilleira along with twins, Kycia and Kyshona Knight. The players will remain in camp, which started earlier this month in St Lucia, before facing Pakistan in the first of four day/night ODIs next Friday at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium. West Indies will also take on the Pakistanis in three T20s in Grenada, starting October 29. SQUAD: Stafanie Taylor (captain), Shakera Selman (vice-captain), Merissa Aguilleira, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Stacy-Ann King, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed, Tremayne Smartt.last_img

Big clashes booked for FLOW Super Cup

first_imgDefending FLOW Super Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) will get their title defence under way against Vere Technical in a jam-packed opening weekend, spanning three venues and eight games.JC, which earlier this week suffered a penalty shoot-out loss to Wolmer’s Boys in the ISSA-FLOW Walker Cup competition, will be looking to ensure that they take better care of one of the three titles that they won last season along with the Manning Cup and Olivier Shield competitions, and will face a motivated Vere Technical at the National Stadium tomorrow at 6 p.m.That game will be preceded by Walker Cup semi-finalists St Jago’s showdown with St Elizabeth’s Lacovia High.DaCosta Cup champions Clarendon College were eliminated on penalties by last year’s beaten FLOW Super Cup finalists Holy Trinity in the first round of the competition and they will be desperate to have a bigger impact in the competition this year, when they play Hydel in the first of three games at Sabina Park at 2 p.m.Also at Sabina Park, Walker Cup finalists Wolmer’s Boys – semi-finalists last year – will play Port Antonio High at 4 p.m. with St George’s College, who also booked their spot in the Walker Cup final, will take their first stride in the tournament when they play Petersfield in the curtain-closer at 6 p.m.At Catherine Hall in Montego Bay, Glenmuir High will play Kingston College in the first of three games with a 2 p.m. kick-off, with St Elizabeth Technical facing Charlie Smith at 4 p.m. and local team St James High welcoming Excelsior High at 6 p.m.contested by 16 teamsThe second instalment of the FLOW Super Cup is being contested by 16 teams – eight each from the Manning and daCosta Cup competitions, with a $1-million jackpot and a new Italian-crafted trophy awaiting the eventual winners.Each team will get $25,000 for contesting the first round, and an additional $50,000 for advancing to the quarter-finals, with the four semi-finalists each set to receive another $100,000.Each finalist will be paid $200,000, with the winners pocketing a further $625,000 for a total cash prize of $1 million.The draw for this year’s FLOW Super Cup took place at the Creative Production and Training Centre yesterday.last_img

Leave a Comment