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Saskatchewan Innovations

Saskatchewan InnovationThroughout our province's history, Saskatchewan people have created an amazing variety of devices - everything from kitchen gadgets and personal gear to agricultural and industrial equipment. With about 3,200 inventions patented, and probably thousands unrecorded, it is obvious that innovation is an important part of the history of Saskatchewan.

The WDM is proud to have a collection rich in Saskatchewan innovations of all shapes, sizes, and types, from oil cans to calculators to the ‘cobalt bomb.’

Also, check out our 'Made In Saskatchewan' patent index. Search through a PDF file of all patents filed by Saskatchewan inventors from 1905-1976.

17 Saskatchewan Innovations

Look for the Saskatchewan Innovation logo throughout our website to indicate an artifact with Saskatchewan origins.

1. Draganflyer X6

Looking like a mini-helicopter, the Draganflyer X6 is useful for industrial inspection, and real estate and wildlife photography. Police forces are interested in its potential for crime scene and traffic accident investigations, tactical support, emergency site management, and search and rescue.

Find out where in Saskatchewan the Draganflyer was developed -->

2. Wind turbine

Saskatoon inventor Glen Lux is on to something innovative in the world of wind power.

After selling his construction business in 2002, Humboldt-born Lux started experimenting with wind turbines. Most conventional wind turbines are the horizontal axis type (HAWT). But it was the Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) that intrigued Lux, a concept most others had given up because of inherent design flaws.

Find out more about the Lux Turbine -->

3. Lorch Snowplane

Black and white photo of men sitting in front of a line of Lorch snowplanes. Behind them is the Spyhill Garage.Seventy years ago, Karl Lorch took his first "snowplane" for a spin around Spy Hill, Sask. and created a Canadian legend.

Karl Lorch owned a garage in Spy Hill, Sask., 200 km east of Regina. He wanted to build a machine that would replace the horse and cutter during winter months. He secured a patent for the machines in 1935, and set up a manufacturing plant in Spy Hill.

Find out more about Lorch Snowplanes -->

4. Gofer-EV

Founded by Saskatoon’s Patric Byrns in 2010, PapaBravo builds electric vehicles or EVs, for the mining industry. EVs are especially popular in underground operations like potash mines because, unlike gas or diesel vehicles, they do not produce air-polluting emissions.

The Gofer-EV, Papa Bravo’s prototype electric vehicle, exceeded expectations during extensive testing both above and below ground.

Learn more about Papa Bravo and the Gofer-EV -->

5. Smokejumpers

Saskatchewan boasted Canada’s first smokejumpers when they took to the skies in 1947.

Jumping from an aircraft at 2,000 feet and landing near a roaring forest fire is no pink tea affair, but that's the occupation of eight young men in Prince Albert who make it their business to "smoke jump" on forest fires... - The Leader-Post, August 9, 1947

Find out more about Saskatchewan smokejumpers -->

6. Blowtorch, the Mechanical Horse

Man tinkering with Blowtorch's mechanical insides via a lift up flap“The only horse in the world you have to choke to start”
W.J. McIntyre, inventor

Blowtorch, a life size mechanical horse, was the pet project and creation of W.J. McIntyre, a Swift Current, Saskatchewan inventor. Described by former employees as “rather eccentric with a keen, creative mind,” McIntyre built his first mechanical horse about 1947.

Find out more about Blowtorch -->

7. Meilicke Calculator

Meilicke calculator from the WDM collectionCarl Meilicke felt that no math problem needed to be solved twice, so in 1896 he invented a calculator to prove his point. Three generations of the Meilicke would go on to work for Carl's calculator business.

“You can see the advance in technology from my grandfather, to my father, to me,” his grandson Ronald commented.

And it all began with a tomato can in Saskatchewan.

Find out what a tomato can has to do with calculators -->

8. Straw Gas Car

Ever heard of a straw gas car? It’s a car that runs on the gaseous vapour produced by heating straw. Back in 1917, University of Saskatchewan chemistry professor R.D MacLaurin and his engineering colleague A.R. Greig teamed up to test the possibility of using straw gas as fuel for engines.

Learn more about the straw gas car experiment -->

9. Air Seeding

Morris Industries air seeder behind tractor in fieldThe first experiments with air seeders on the prairies began in the early 1950s. One early experimenter was Lajord farmer Jerome Bechard. Bechard’s machine consisted of a pull-behind tank that carried seed and fertilizer in separate compartments. Forced air propelled seed and fertilizer through long tubes to the seeding boots or spouts. A metering system on the tank adjusted the flow. 

Air seeding technology took off in the 1980s and 1990s with several Saskatchewan companies producing equipment.

Learn more about air seeding -->

10. Rock pickers

Anderson rock pickerRocky fields are the scourge of farmers everywhere. In parts of Saskatchewan, it seemed like there was a new crop of stones every year. Until the 1940s, the only way to get rid of them was to pick them by hand or put a chain around them and pull them out with horse or tractor.

Find out about the Saskatchewan rock pickers that helped make the job easier -->

11. Western Roto Thresh

Manitoba brothers William and Fred Streich came up with an idea for a combine that would use a rotating drum instead of conventional shaking action to separate kernels from chaff.

The Saskatchewan part of the story took place in Saskatoon with the building of prototypes by Asphalt Services Ltd. and extensive testing by the Agricultural Engineering department at the University of Saskatchewan.

In 1973, Western Roto Thresh Ltd. was set up in Saskatoon to manufacture the new combines.

Learn more about Roto Thresh combines and their connection to today's harvesting technology -->

12. Air Ambulance

CF-SAM airplant in Moose Jaw WDM

CF-SAM, an airplane in the Western Development Museum collection, represents a milestone in Saskatchewan and Canada’s aviation history. It belonged to the fledgling Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service (SAAS), the first non-military, government-operated air ambulance service in the world.

Learn more about the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service -->

13. Flexicoil Packer

In the late 1940s, an observant Emerson Summach, a farmer from Asquith was fascinated watching his young son play with an old coil spring in the family garden patch. It was the diagonal pattern left on the soil that caught his attention. What if, Summach thought, the same principle was applied to the conventional land packer?

Learn more about the Packer Revolution -->

14. ATM and Debit Card

Saskatchewan Credit Union Central general manager, IBM publication, n.d. Sherwood Credit Union in Regina revolutionized personal banking when it introduced the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to Canadians.

 After their success with the Automated Teller Machine, Credit Union innovators in Saskatchewan went on to their next revolutionary idea–the debit card.

Learn more about the Banking Revolution -->

15. Morris Rod Weeder


George Morris was known to say that his 1929 rod weeder was just the "right thing at the right time." His progressive invention came not a moment too soon.

Read more about the Morris rod weeder -->

16. Symons Oilers

symons oil can ad

Ernie Symons was a tinkerer. Born on the family homestead in the Wapella area of southeast Saskatchewan, young Ernie had a gift for making things out of bits and pieces of junk. As he grew older, he added metalworking to his growing skills. By age 19, he had his own blacksmith shop where he repaired machinery and sharpened plowshares. In 1920, a neighbour gave him three pump oilers, a gift that changed Ernie’s life.

Find out more about Ernie's Oilers -->

17. Cobalt-60 Unit

The WDM considers the cobalt bomb to be one of the most important artifacts in its collection. This machine, and others like it, has saved the lives of millions of cancer patients around the world. This is very much a Saskatchewan - and a Saskatoon - story.

Learn more about the "Cancer Bomb" -->


About National Science and Technology Week

Coordinated by the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, National Science and Technology Week aims to raise awareness of the importance of science and technology and celebrates Canadian innovation. For more about the celebration, visit the National Science and Technology Week website.

About Innovation Week

For more information on Innovation Week, an initiative of the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering in collaboration with the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Saskatchewan, see

You might also be interested in:

""Saskatchewan Patent Index

""Donating an Artifact

""Articles about other artifacts from the WDM Collection