Science and technology in Canada

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The Canadian-built Space Shuttle robotic arm (left), referred to as Canadarm, transferred the P5 truss segment over to the Canadian-built space station robotic arm, referred to as Canadarm2

Science and technology in Canada consists of three distinct but closely related phenomena:

In 2019, Canada spent approximately CA$40.3 billion on domestic research and development, of which over $7 billion was provided by the federal and provincial governments.[1] In 2018, Canada spent approximately C$34.5 billion on domestic research and development, of which around $2 billion was spent directly by the federal government in-house and an additional $5.7 billion was provided by provincial and federal sources in the form of grants.[2] This investment corresponds to about 1.57% of Canada's gross domestic product, a decline from 1.72% in 2014.[3] Canada was ranked 15th in the Global Innovation Index in 2023.[4]

As of 2020, the country has produced fifteen Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, and medicine,[5] and was ranked fourth worldwide for scientific research quality in a major 2012 survey of international scientists.[6] It is furthermore home to the headquarters of a number of global technology firms.[7] Canada has one of the highest levels of Internet access in the world, with over 33 million users, equivalent to around 94 percent of its total 2014 population.[8][9][10][11]

Some of the most notable scientific developments in Canada include the creation of the modern alkaline battery[12] and the polio vaccine[13] and discoveries about the interior structure of the atomic nucleus.[14] Other major Canadian scientific contributions include the artificial cardiac pacemaker, mapping the visual cortex,[15][16] the development of the electron microscope,[17][18] plate tectonics, deep learning, multi-touch technology and the identification of the first black hole, Cygnus X-1.[19] Canada has a long history of discovery in genetics, which include stem cells, site-directed mutagenesis, T-cell receptor and the identification of the genes that cause Fanconi anemia, cystic fibrosis and early-onset Alzheimer's disease, among numerous other diseases.[16][20]

The Canadian Space Agency operates a highly active space program, conducting deep-space, planetary, and aviation research, and developing rockets and satellites.[21] Canada was the third country to design and construct a satellite after the Soviet Union and the United States, with the 1962 Alouette 1 launch.[22] Canada is a participant in the International Space Station (ISS), and is a pioneer in space robotics, having constructed the Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre robotic manipulators for the ISS and NASA's Space Shuttle.[23] Since the 1960s, Canada's aerospace industry has designed and built numerous marques of satellite, including Radarsat-1 and 2, ISIS and MOST.[24] Canada has also produced one of the world's most successful and widely used sounding rockets, the Black Brant; over 1,000 Black Brants have been launched since the rocket's introduction in 1961.[25]

The diffusion of technology in Canada[edit]

The technological and industrial history of Canada encompasses the country's development in the areas of transportation, communication, energy, materials, public works, public services (health care), domestic/consumer and defense technologies. Most technologies diffused in Canada came from other places; only a small number actually originated in Canada. For more about those with a Canadian origin, see Invention in Canada.

The terms chosen for the "age" described below are both literal and metaphorical. They describe the technology that dominated the period in question but are also representative of a large number of other technologies introduced during the same period. Also of note is the fact that the period of diffusion of a technology can begin modestly and can extend well beyond the "age" of its introduction. To maintain continuity, the treatment of its diffusion is dealt with in the context of its dominant "age". For example, the "Steam Age" here is defined as being from 1840 to 1880. However, steam-powered boats were introduced in 1809, the CPR was completed in 1885 and railway construction in Canada continued well into the 20th century. To preserve continuity, the development of steam, in the early and later years, is therefore considered within the "Steam Age".

Technology is a major cultural determinant, no less important in shaping human lives than philosophy, religion, social organization, or political systems. In the broadest sense, these forces are also aspects of technology. The French sociologist Jacques Ellul defined "la technique" as the totality of all rational methods in every field of human activity so that, for example, education, law, sports, propaganda, and the social sciences are all technologies in that sense.[26] At the other end of the scale, common parlance limits the term's meaning to specific industrial arts.

Scientific research in Canada[edit]

Innovation, invention, and industrial research in Canada[edit]

Technological and industrial history of Canada[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Spending on research and development, 2019 (final), 2020 (preliminary) and 2021 (intentions)". Statistics Canada. March 4, 2022. Retrieved April 10, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Daily – Spending on research and development, 2018 intentions". Statistics Canada. December 22, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  3. ^ Schneegans, S.; Straza, T.; Lewis, J., eds. (11 June 2021). UNESCO Science Report: the Race Against Time for Smarter Development. Paris: UNESCO. ISBN 978-92-3-100450-6.
  4. ^ WIPO. "Global Innovation Index 2023, 15th Edition". Retrieved 2023-10-17.
  5. ^ "Canadian Nobel Prize in Science Laureates". Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  6. ^ McIlroy, Anne (September 26, 2012). "Canada ranked fourth in the world for scientific research". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  7. ^ "Top 250 Canadian Technology Companies". Branham Group Inc. 2014. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  8. ^ "Internet Usage and Population in North America". Internet World Stats. June 2014. Archived from the original on February 7, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "Global Innovation Index 2021". World Intellectual Property Organization. United Nations. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  10. ^ "Release of the Global Innovation Index 2020: Who Will Finance Innovation?". WIPO. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  11. ^ "Global Innovation Index 2019". WIPO. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  12. ^ "Lew Urry".
  13. ^ "Leone N. Farrell".
  14. ^ "Leon Katz".
  15. ^ Strauss, Evelyn (2005). "2005 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award". Lasker Foundation. Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  16. ^ a b "Top ten Canadian scientific achievements". GCS Research Society. 2015.
  17. ^ "James Hillier". Inventor of the Week. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on August 8, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2008.
  18. ^ Pearce, Jeremy (January 22, 2007). "James Hillier, 91, Dies; Co-Developed Electron Microscope". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2008.
  19. ^ Bolton, C. T. (1972). "Identification of Cygnus X-1 with HDE 226868". Nature. 235 (2): 271–273. Bibcode:1972Natur.235..271B. doi:10.1038/235271b0. S2CID 4222070.
  20. ^ Strathdee, C.A.; Gavish, H.; Shannon, W.; Buchwald, M. (1992). "Cloning of cDNAs for Fanconi's anemia by functional complementation". Nature. 356 (6372): 763–767. Bibcode:1992Natur.356..763S. doi:10.1038/356763a0. PMID 1574115. S2CID 4250632.
  21. ^ "Canadian Space Milestones". Canadian Space Agency. 2016. Archived from the original on October 8, 2009.
  22. ^ Angelo, Joseph A. (2009). Encyclopedia of Space and Astronomy. Infobase Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4381-1018-9.
  23. ^ Bidaud, Philippe; Dupuis, Erick (2012). "An overview of Canadian space robotics activities". Field Robotics: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots and the Support Technologies for Mobile Machines. World Scientific. pp. 35–37. ISBN 978-981-4374-27-9.
  24. ^ "The Canadian Aerospace Industry praises the federal government for recognizing Space as a strategic capability for Canada". Newswire. March 11, 2010. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  25. ^ Godefroy, Andrew B. (2017). The Canadian Space Program: From Black Brant to the International Space Station. Springer. p. 41. ISBN 978-3-319-40105-8.
  26. ^ Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society, trans. John Wilkinson (New York: Random House, 1964)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]