Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!!

So today is Canada's 143 birthday!  I'm sadly not that patriotic when it comes to Canada Day...the crowds freak me out and I'm constantly worrying that a child is going to get lost in it!  Especially if I took them out by myself!  So instead we sang O Canada, said the pledges and read books about Canada, mapping out where the first Europeans came from and where they landed etc.
Here's some cool things I didn't know or had forgotten, taken from The Kids Book of Canadian First by Valerie Wyatt.  These are things that were the first in the world done by a Canadian.

Rick Hanson was the first in the world to wheelchair around the world!  34 countries, 792 days and 117 tires later, wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen finished his marathon.  He had travelled a distance equivalent to once around the world.  His inspiration: Terry Fox.  His cause: raising funds for spinal cord research.  When his marathon was over in 1987, Hansen had raised $20 million!

Canadian's natives were the first to build canoes.
In 1932 it was John Patch of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia who designed a propeller like the ones on boats today.  They were all powered by sails or paddlewheels before he came along!  Called teh screw propeller, it rotated rapidly underwater, powering teh boat forward.  Sadly, Patch was tricked out of patenting his invention, which revolutionized sea travel, and he died penniless.

When the Canadian-build Royal William traveled between Quebec City and London, England, in 1833, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.  in an era when ships traveled at the whim of the winds, being able to get to places under your own power was an important first.  It led to scheduled trips that passengers and shippers could depend on.

First automatic steam foghorn!  This first was a lifesaver for sailors.  it replaced bells rung by lighthouse keepers to warn fogbound ships they were too near to land.  Invented by Robert Foulis in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1860, the foghorn sent blasts of steam out through a whistle at regular intervals.  At last, warning bells were loud, clear and automatic.

The wooden RCMP schooner St. Roch had several firsts to its name.  It was first to sail from west to east through Canada's Northwest Passage, in 1942.  To make this trip, it left Vancouver in 1940 and spent two winters trapped in Arctic ice.  It was later the first ship to make the trip both ways.  Then in 1950, the St. Roch became the first ship to circumnavigate North America.

First toboggans.
Simple to make, great for carrying things and fun to use--that's the toboggan.  First invented by the Native people of the north, the earliest toboggans were made of thin boards of larch or birch.  To get the turned-up "nose", the wood was bent while still green and tied in place until it dried.  Dogs or humans provided the pulling power.

Early train passengers slept on wooden benches or stiff seats until 1857, when Samuel Sharp, a master mechanic in Hamilton, Ontario, invented a sleeping car equipped with comfy berths and privacy curtains.  American inventor George Pullman often gets the credit for the first sleeping car--we even call sleeping cars "Pullmans." But they should be called "Sharps".

Snow often bogged down early train travel.  But, in 1869, Toronto dentist J.W. Elliot solved that problem by inventing the Compound Revolving Snow Shovel.  Equipped with rotating blades that blew snow away, a bit like today's snow blowers, it's the granddaddy of today's track clearers.

Dogs barked adn horses shied as 15 yr old Armand Bombardier and his brother, Leopold, drove their homemade snow machine through the town of Valcourt, Quebec, in 1922.  Fifteen years later, in 1937, Armand built a snowmobile more like the ones we know today.

Teh automatic oiler, patented in 1872, revolutionized train travel.  For teh first time, trains could be oiled while in motion, instead of having to stop every few hours.  The inventor, Canadian-born Elijah McCoy, went on to add oilers to other equipment.  Buyers who wanted to be sure a machine had one of these automatic oilers asked for "the real McCoy".

Hydrogen fuel cells have powered spacecraft into space, but it took a Canadian company to turn an idea from space into a reality on Earth.  What's a hydrogen fuel cell?  It's a battery-like power source that can run on a wide range of fuels, not just gas or diesel fuel.  better still, its only emission is water vapour.  In 1993, Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia, unveiled the world's first bus powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells.

I could go on...but I would rather just recommend the book! 
The Kids Book of Canadian Firsts by Valerie Wyatt.

How did you celebrate Canada Day??


Sombra said...

I'm even more unpatriotic, we didn't sing the song, or say a pledge, or read a book or even wear red...... well,Elias is wearing a white - which has the maple leaf on it.. came from a cereal a few years ago, and he wore red undies to bed.

Lori-Dawn said...

HAHA, that was me last year. This year I figured I'd do SOMETHING since we were *supposedly* learning about Canada in Social Studies this year...hee hee The material was handy, so we used them. lol