13 Things Canada Has Given to America (and the Rest of the World)

bloody caesar
Jeff Wasserman/shutterstock

Although it seems virtually impossible, not everything that appears to be American is 100% red, white, and blue (eagle scream) American. A lot of the things in our everyday lives were created by other countries, and that includes Canada -- the permanent home of ketchup chips and kindness. The Great White North is actually responsible for a lot of patriotic, misleadingly American designs that have become global phenomena, and these 13 innovations are proof. Then again... RIP BlackBerry.

Bloody Caesars

Much like ginger ale and “real” craft beer, the Caesar is a beverage that’s 100% Canadian. The hair-of-the-dog drink was invented in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell after he was assigned to create a signature drink for the Calgary Inn’s new Italian restaurant. Using influences from Venice, Italy, Chell combined vodka with clam & tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco to create a relatively spicy cocktail that was similar to the Bloody Mary.

Instant replay

Despite its prominent use in the NFL (and lack thereof in baseball), instant replay was first introduced during a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast back in 1955. CBC Sports producer George Retzlaff used a “wet-film” replay that aired several minutes after the original play, and while it didn’t include slow-motion takes or freeze frames, it influenced CBS (cough, cough, America) to replicate the technique with a standard videotape machine.


Even though ice hockey and lacrosse rule the North, it’s tough to ignore Canada’s history on the hardwood. Basketball wouldn’t have existed without Dr. James Naismith, who, as a student in Montreal, moved to the States in 1891 and introduced the game to a group at the YMCA in Springfield, MA. The sport initially started as an activity to keep athletes in shape during the winter season. Eventually, it outgrew peach baskets. The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was founded June 6, 1946. Fun fact: Naismith is also credited for having invented the football helmet.  

The light bulb

Thomas Edison, America's greatest scumbag whose legacy is somehow impeccable, definitely wasn’t Canadian -- he was actually born in Milan, OH of all places -- but he also wasn’t the original inventor of the incandescent light bulb. That distinction belongs to medical student Henry Woodward, who, in 1874, filed a patent for a lamp that was eventually sold to Edison due to its success and practical use of inert nitrogen.


In the late 1800s, diabetes wasn't initially seen as a serious disease. It wasn't until the 1920s that patients began to be properly treated when Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin. The pair conducted a series of experiments to create a manageable cure, first injecting a patient in January of 1922. For his work, Banting received the Nobel Prize in medicine. And in true Canadian fashion, he opted to share his prize money with his colleague.

Peanut butter

Although the US is the third-largest producer of peanuts in the world, peanut butter can actually be attributed to -- wait for it -- a Canadian. In 1884, Montreal pharmacist Marcellus Gilmore Edson patented "peanut paste," which derived from milling roasted peanuts, and was primarily used as a source of nutrition for individuals who couldn’t chew solid food. The spread was later adopted by the Kellogg brothers (1895) and sold under the labels Skippy (1932) and Jif (1958).

The BlackBerry

Despite the rise of Apple and Android, the BlackBerry deserves some credit for transforming our relationship with our portable phones. BlackBerry Limited, formerly known as Research In Motion Limited, introduced its first two-way pager in 1996. Its design sparked an instant-messaging boom -- the company had a total of 14 million global users in 2008, and saw that number rise to 70 million in 2011, until the other phones came along and turned the Blackberry into a relic.

The walkie-talkie

The unfading piece of our childhood was first created in the 1930s by Canadian inventor Donald Hings, who produced a portable radio system for CM&S in British Columbia. The device was originally called the “packset,” and, despite its resemblance to another hand-held from Motorola, Hings’ C-58 model was ultimately praised for its use in the military service and World War II.

The Wonderbra

Even though Mary Phelps Jacob can take credit for creating the first modern bra, the first Wonderbra was invented in 1963 by Canadian designer Louise Poirier. The "push-up plunge bra" utilized 54 design elements and engineering that involved three-part cup construction, rigid straps, and removable pads called “cookies.” Its success led to a fashion-forward take on advertising in the 1970s before becoming a worldwide phenomenon in the early ‘90s.

Trivial Pursuit

It’s true. Unlike Jeopardy!, Trivial Pursuit was actually created by a pair of Canucks. The board game was invented in 1979 by journalists Scott Abbott and Chris Haney, and, after a few years of fundraising and developing trivia, it was officially trademarked on November 10, 1981. The duo lost money on their initial sets due to manufacturing costs, but the rights to the game were eventually purchased by Hasbro in 2008 for an estimated total of $80 million.


It’s true, eh: Superman is as Canadian as Wolverine and Captain Canuck. Sort of. “The Man of Steel” was created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Toronto-born cartoonist Joe Shuster in 1932. In the early stages, the character’s alter ego, Clark Kent, worked for the Daily Star, which was directly patterned after the Toronto Star newspaper. We'll stake halfsies.


If you appreciated The Revenant and Star Wars in the past year, then Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroiter, and Robert Kerr should be your heroes. The three Canadian filmmakers demonstrated the first IMAX film, Tiger Child, at Expo ‘70 in Osaka, Japan. Its technical achievements led to future variations such as IMAX 3D, IMAX HD, and Digital IMAX. In terms of venues and installations, there are now 1,061 IMAX theatres in 67 different countries (as of December 31, 2015).

The synthesizer

If you've ever felt the need to key up a synth jam like Soft Cell’s "Tainted Love," then you can thank Canada. In the late 1940s, Canadian composer Hugh Le Caine invented the Sackbut, an electronic music instrument that provided control of three different aspects of sound: volume, pitch, and timbre. The innovation later influenced Dr. Robert Moog, who sold his first modular synthesizer prototype in 1964 before attracting the attention of artists such as Diana Ross, The Doors, Simon & Garfunkel, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles.

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Joshua Khan is a Toronto-based writer that is 100% Canadian (but absolutely terrible at coming up with inventions). Follow him and his endeavors at: @blaremag.