Sectors of Discovery
Inventors are inspired to develop inventions in all areas of life from processes in industry to labour-saving devices for the home to ways of making learning easier and even ways to have fun. The following are groupings based on important sectors of development. They are also categories for searches in the Patents Database.
Agriculture (a term to refer to all farming and ranching) is the process of producing food, feed, fibre, fuel and other goods by the systematic raising of plants and animals. Agriculture has played a very large part in Alberta’s history. It was the main way of life for settlers who came to the province in the early 20th Century. If you were to look at the Canadian Patent Office Record, you would find many inventions recorded during the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s.
The Canadian Patent Record Office would not list every invention/innovation of the time, just the ones that were filed for by their inventors. Back then, life as a farmer required people to quickly invent or adapt new methods to solve problems. For example, Samuel James Currey invented the twine holder in Innisfail in 1910, and Frances Kallal of Toefield invented the hoe-rake in 1943.
Most of these inventions were not used world wide, nor even by people in the neighboring provinces. Because people at the time were more concerned about making a living from the land, they did not devote any time or money to packaging and selling their inventions. These farmers created their inventions to help them deal with the problems they encountered on their own farms. However, the Van Slyke Plow, invented in 1910 by Frank Van Slyke, was well used in the Red Deer area. In fact, by 1922, 1400 Red Deer area farmers used the Van Slyke plow.
The Necessity of Invention
Most problems farmers had were because of their environment, the area where they lived. The dry lands of Southern Alberta, for example, required new methods and tools to help farmers keep moisture in the soil. When new methods like plow-less summer fallowing and strip farming did not work out so well, other methods needed to be created. It was out of necessity that Charles Noble came to invent the Noble Blade. The Noble Blade is a special plow which was pulled under the ground instead of on top of it. This method cut off the roots of weeds without disturbing the surface of the soil, which in turn lessened the risk of water loss.
These were special farms that were built to test new agricultural methods and tools built by area farmers. The first research farm in Alberta was located in Lethbridge, and was built in 1906.
For more information on Agriculture please click the following link.
We all need to communicate to live our daily lives. In the last 100 years people have invented new machines to help us communicate with one another over great distances. Telephones have become household items (especially advantageous in a country as large as Canada), as have radios and televisions. In the past few decades, computers have changed the way we communicate once again with the invention of the World Wide Web.
Some of the inventors working in this sector of discovery were ahead of their time. Roman Gonsett, for instance, in 1912, made a large (some might say bulky) telephone answering machine, decades before such devices became widespread. Gonsett also invented what he eventually called the Fairy Phonograph, which tastefully married two existing devices: the phonograph and the electric lamp.
For more information on Communication technologies please click the following link.
Alberta is not as well known for its building and construction industry as it is for oil and agriculture. Due to the great number of settlers and immigrants who moved to the Province throughout the Twentieth Century, a large amount of building and construction was required. The first invention to aid in the tasks of building and construction goes all the way back to 1905, when James McIntyre of Edmonton patented a folding scaffold bracket.
In Bentley, Alberta, a blacksmith named Carl Bjornson and his brothers, Emil and Sigfred, worked in a welding shop, and shared credit for inventing a wrench and a pipe wrench in the 1920s. Many other small scale inventions and innovations were created in Alberta for the construction industry.
For more information on Construction please click the following link.
Health and Wellness
The Health and Wellness sector of discovery deals with inventions/innovations that help people live a healthier life. When Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin in 1928, the discovery occurred because of Fleming’s drive to help the sick get well. These inventions can be as groundbreaking as a new antibiotic or as commonplace as tartar-preventing toothpaste.
While innovative efforts in Alberta's past have had results that have been life-changing, not all the health and wellness inventions have been so serious. For example, in the late 1930s, Mary Fleming of Banff patented her Halitosis Detector, used to detect bad breath, and Victor Tobiasson of Fort Macleod, was issued a patent for his Blackhead Remover.
For more information on Health and Wellness please click the following link.
Home and Lifestyle
Home and lifestyle inventions are usually created to help people save time or help with work around the house. Household inventions in the first half of the 20th century in Alberta existed in the realm of everyday life. Two such examples are the ironing board and cabinet by William Samuel Beggs of Volmer, and a dishwasher patented by Edith Thomas of Trochu in 1923. Beggs invented his device out of a need to save space for people who lived in apartments. Edith Thomas was looking to ease the burden of a household task that was, at the time, often being accomplished without the benefits of running water or electricity.
For more information on Home and Lifestyle please click the following link.
Mining and Metallurgy
Alberta is well known for its natural resources, especially those that help create energy like oil and gas. Alberta also has a long history of producing coal. Coal mining was the original economic base for several large Alberta communities, including Lethbridge (which, earlier, was called Coalbanks), Medicine Hat and Drumheller.
When Alberta became a province in 1905, coal-mining methods involved hand-loading and horse-driven carts, making the job very tough on the miners. Early patents, like the wheel flange, tried to make the work easier for the miners and proved a valuable development of the time. Other patents were more futuristic, like the car-propelling mechanism, patented by Henry Gibeau of Frank, Alberta.
For more information on Mining and Metallurgy please click the following link.
Oil and Gas
In 1947, the oil and gas industry in Alberta was forever changed with the discovery of oil at Leduc. Most of the major inventions and innovations in this sector of discovery have happened since then, but there were some smaller inventions before 1947. The first oil and gas related patent recorded in Alberta was a well drill, patented by Jonas Mattson and Ransom Warren of Wetaskiwin in 1907.
After 1947, and the discovery of oil at Leduc, patents were filed regularly for improvements to wells, pipelines, various tools, parts, and processes related to the production of crude oil and natural gas.
For more information on Oil and Gas please click the following link.
Out of the Ordinary
Most inventors are trying to come up with creative solutions to problems. While these new ideas may result in beautifully strange and useful products, it is their uniqueness that makes them so hard to classify. That is why we have this section.
It is easy to figure out what sector of discovery a garden hoe belongs to, but how do we categorize inventions like the technology used to assist in the construction of the International Space Station? How should we classify a garbage bin that prevents bears from getting in and, in doing so, helps to conserve their numbers and ensure public safety? Whimsical and clever, a suitcase that functions as a life preserver seems to elude categorization. Perhaps the best strategy is to let each invention in this section stand on its own.
For more information on inventions that are Out of the Ordinary please click the following link.
Sports and Recreation
Alberta has always had a rich sports history with the most famous athlete being Wayne Gretzky. From the elite level to the amateur scene to the backyard skating rink, competition and sport have been common themes for provincial athletes of all ages.
Numerous sport inventions in Alberta’s history were never patented and remain tools, games and equipment developed to please and entertain the inventor, his family and his local community. Others have been patented and include a bowling pin resetter, and a ski release harness.
For more information on Sports and recreation please click the following link.
The changes in transportation are easy to see, especially if you look back to the days of the horse and wagon and consider where we are now. Transportation was changing in the early 20th Century, for instance a patent filed in 1906 for a harness buckle came one year after a patent filed for an air filled tire for a car, strange eh!?
Historically, large-scale vehicle manufacturing has not been extensive in Alberta and, consequently, independent inventors have a larger presence in the patent record than companies and corporations.
Patents filed from Alberta in the transportation sector include things like the oil dipstick illuminator, and the famous Jaycopter.
For more information on Transportation please click the following link.
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