Albertans are a proud bunch with an affinity for the land and deep-rooted values.
They appreciate a good pickup truck but also a good hike. Their idea of a good time entails dressing like extras in a John Wayne movie, but it can also involve hurling themselves a snowy Rocky Mountain slope.
But Albertans are also a clever, imaginative breed with a penchant for innovation.
Look around and chances are that an idea born in Alberta has had an impact on your life, the new federal Conservative movement not withstanding. (Yes, that political force was born from the Canadian Alliance, that came from the Reform Party, which was born in Alberta.)
Albertans have become legendary for their propensity to dig, so it stands to reason that it was Albertans who invented a way to pull bitumen out of sand in northern Alberta, and who invented a way to take fossils out of the dinosaur-rich earth of eastern Alberta without damaging the fragile specimens.
But it's everyday things, such as the ATCO trailer or the Caesar, that Canadians run across everyday and that they may not know were invented in Wild Rose Country. And those are the inventions offered here today.
Click through the slideshow below for top 12 oddest, most surprising, most delicious inventions to come out of Alberta.
1. Caesar Cocktail
A Caesar sometimes referred to as a Bloody Caesar,1 after the similar Bloody Mary, is a cocktail popular mainly in Canada.
So Ubiquitous, Yet So Albertan
The Caesar can be enjoyed coast to coast to coast, and even in some bars in Mexico and Italy, but the very metropolitan cocktail was born in Cowtown. "The Caesar was invented in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell of the Calgary Inn (today the Westin Hotel) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He devised the cocktail after being tasked to create a signature drink for the Calgary Inn's new Italian restaurant. He mixed vodka with clam and tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and other spices, creating a drink similar to a Bloody Mary but with a uniquely spicy flavour." Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_%28cocktail%29" target="_blank">Wikipedia </a>
2. Bear-Proof Garbage Can
A Canadian Icon
It's estimated that more than a thousand bears have been killed since the mountain parks were established, due to human garbage and the habituation effect it has on the bruins. There have also been people killed by bears looking for human food. That trend is being reversed in partly due to people's greater awareness of what their garbage does to bears but also due in great part to the bear-proof bin. The bear bin was developed in the 1970s by Haul-All Equipment Systems of Lethbridge.
3. Ginger Beef
So Chinese, Yet Not
It's the dish that every Chinese restaurant has on the menu - that most favourite takeout for Canadians and that most effective comfort food requiring chop sticks - ginger beef. But even though it was invented by a Chinese chef working at a Chinese restaurant, the dish is actually from, ahem, Calgary. Credited for the meal is George Wong at the Silver Inn. Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger_beef" target="_blank">Wikipedia </a>and <a href="http://chinesefood.about.com/od/diningout/a/gingerbeef.htm" target="_blank">About.com</a>
No One Likes A Cold
Cold-Fx was invented by Dr. Jacqueline Shan and Dr. Peter Pang. It was invented as a cold prevention product that has become a consumer favourite but has also found a loyal following in professional sports teams such as the Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, as well as the Canadian Olympic team.
5. The ATCO Trailer
A Building You Can Move Around
ATCO trailers have become staples of the oil patch, forestry camps, school yards and even overseas bases for the Canadian Forces. "The first generation of ATCO modular buildings were little more than a small travel trailer that could be hauled from one site to another as the need arose. As ATCO grew, the company pioneered the modular building industry and ATCO’s “relocatable towns” became the company’s hallmark. These trailers could be attached to each other to form a complex to accommodate workers complete with internal walkways and adapted for a range of uses, including full-scale industrial kitchens and temporary office space. ATCO modular buildings were, and continue to be used for a variety of purposes including workforce accommodations, kitchens, offices, classrooms, and custom designed buildings. The units are pre-wired with electrical systems, plumbing for showers, sinks and toilets, as well as connections for waste disposal and hookups to existing water systems." Source: <a href="http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_bu_modular_home.htm" target="_blank">collectionscanada.gc.ca</a>
6. The Rubber Curling Hack
This Guy Was Anything But A Hack
"Edmontonian Elias B. "Ole" Olson, like many Canadians, was an avid curler. In 1939, during a bonspiel in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, he was preparing to launch his rock. He thought out his shot, took hold of the granite stone, placed his foot in the dent hacked from the ice and began to push off. Then, at the crucial moment, he slipped and missed his shot. It is not known how hard Olson hit the ice, but like Newton, the bump was enough motivation to invent a solution. For the passionate curler about to make an important shot, a hole hacked from the curling ice was simply too unreliable. Olson reasoned that rubber, commonly used in car tires and shoes for a good grip on ice, would also serve the curler well. On his way home, he purchased some raw rubber form a tire company and began tinkering. Using the family stove he set to work baking the prototypes. Eventually, Olson settled on a chunky design that provided grip for the thrower's foot and prevented slipping." Source: <a href="http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_sp_curling_hack.htm" target="_blank">collectionscanada.gc.ca</a>
7. The Pizza Perogy
Delicious Does Well In Alberta
"Nowhere in the Slavic cooking lexicon is a pizza perogy mentioned, and this particular innovation belongs to Walter Makowecki and his Heritage Frozen Foods, the manufacturer of Cheemo. Even the brand name—the Inuit word for Hello, correctly spelled Chimo—is an intriguing marketing development that draws attention to the flash-frozen nature of this born-in-Edmonton foodstuff." Source: <a href="http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_ot_cheemo.htm" target="_blank">collectionscanada.gc.ca</a>
8. The Floatation Suitcase
It Would Never Sink... Or Go Anywhere, For That Matter
"Although the lifesaving suitcase was created in Claresholm, inventor John Edlund was himself born in Norway to Swedish parents and spent part of his youth working aboard whaling vessels. No stranger to shipwrecks, Edlund survived three before leaving the seas for solid ground and, eventually, Claresholm with its dry prairie climate and isolation from large bodies of water. The suitcase life preserver is the product of a combination of one man's grief over universal tragedy and a few personal close calls. No matter how far Edlund may have been from the Titanic, he was motivated to prevent another shipping tragedy. John Edlund While the apparatus never became an industry standard, there was interest in the flotation device during the First World War, one firm offered to purchase the design for a small fee. Mr. Edlund decided to market the product himself. Like many inventions developed by individuals without the proper access to money and marketing, the travelling bag/life preserver did not result in fortunes." Source: <a href="http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_ot_flotation_suitcase.htm" target="_blank">collectionscanada.gc.ca</a>
9. Gluten-Free Foods
Go Ahead, Have The Bread
It wasn't that long ago that people suffering from celiac disease couldn't enjoy breads, cakes, or any other sort of baking or starches. Now, thanks to innovations by Alberta's Ted Wolff von Selzam for Kinnikinnick Foods Inc., those items are no longer out of reach for the afflicted.
10. The Hoe-Rake
Why Use Two Tools When One Will Do?
The rake-hoe, a tool that most Canadians now have in their shed and that few self-respecting gardeners will go without, was invented in the 1940s by master gardener Frances Kallal in the small town of Tofield.
11. The SMART Board
Minority Report anyone?
The Tom Cruise film makes fantastic use of this technology. In the movie, Cruise uses his massive touch screen as a projector, computer and thought board, controlling it all with his finger tips. That is exactly what Calgarians David Martin and Nancy Knowlton managed to develop in 1991. Then, with some help from their friends in Intel, they sold more than 100,000 units in their first 10 years. Source: <a href="http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_co_smart.htm" target="_blank">collectionscanada.gc.ca</a>
12. Space Vision System
Chris Hadfield Likes It
It has garnered praise from Canada's all-time favourite astronaut, as well as the Canadian Space Agency and NASA. "Astoundingly accurate, SVS is playing an essential role in the construction of the International Space Station. It also is one of Alberta's links to the study of space—Lloyd Pinkney was born in Blairmore in 1931 and later attending the University of Alberta where he studied engineering and physics." Source: <a href="http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_ot_space_vision.htm" target="_blank">collectionscanada.gc.ca</a>
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