________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 13 . . . . March 1, 2002

cover Great Maritime Inventions, 1833-1950.

Mario Theriault.
Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2001.
94 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 0-86492-324-4.

Subject Headings:
Inventions-Maritime Provinces-History.
Patents-Maritime Provinces-History.

Grades 10 and up / Age 15 and up.

Review by Alexander Gregor.

*** /4


"Who would have imagined it the scuba tank, the folding ironing board, the dump truck, and the variable-pitch airplane propellor were all invented in the Maritimes. Yes, it's true. Items as commonplace as the rotary ventilator, backup lights for cars, and the key-opening food cans were all developed here.

Many of the inventions marked significant advances in science and the useful arts, while others changed the course of technology. Some two-piece long underwear, kerosene, the vortex- flushing toilet bowl still enhance our lives today."

In this engaging little book, Mario Theriault, himself a patent agent as well as engineer, describes some fifty-five inventions patented in the Maritimes between 1833 and 1950. Each of the inventions is presented with a pen-and-ink sketch, along with a brief description of the item and an indication of its subsequent impact. The items are organized into five groupings: Consumer Goods: Foods; Consumer Goods: Conveniences; Engineering: Farming and Industry; Engineering: Transportation; and Engineering: Construction. In addition, the author provides a brief background to the patent process; an Appendix listing additional major contributions to technology made by Maritime inventors; and a useful bibliography. Although no attempt is made to provide a comprehensive overview of technological development during the period, the reader is, nonetheless, made aware of how much that we now take for granted - from the odometer to the snow blower - was the result of imagination and inventive impulse, and is made aware of how much our world has been affected and shaped by the results of that impulse. Unfortunately, the brevity of the book and of the individual entries does not allow for any real exploration of the background circumstances of the various inventions. Without this sense of context, the process and forces of technological development and invention are left ambiguous; but enough is conveyed to whet the appetite for further exploration.

     The book could usefully be applied in a number of pedagogical settings. Within either social studies or science classes, the individual items could very easily be utilized as the springboard for further investigation, into a particular technology, or its social and economic implications. The book will be of interest as well to the general adult reader; and in highlighting the contribution made by the Maritimes, it makes a useful addition as well both to regional and national studies.


Alexander Gregor is a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364