Ask any randomly-selected group to name mankind’s greatest invention, most will probably say the wheel.

Fire doesn’t count; it was discovered, not invented.

If you ask about the second most important invention, the answers will range widely: the lever, the pulley, the cotton jenny, moveable type, the internal combustion engine. Someone will inevitably say sliced bread, but that’s just silly.

The opposable thumb. Now, there’s a great invention. It lets us grip tools, hold hands, unscrew pickle jar lids, add a pinch of salt, or create a buffer between hammer and nail.

We turn it up to indicate approval, down to signal rejection. We point it sideways to solicit free rides. But useful as it is, the opposable thumb was not invented by mere mortals. Credit for that belongs elsewhere.

Our species prides itself on the inventiveness that has allowed us to survive and prosper. Necessity is the mother of invention, we her willing handmaids.

Mind you, in our market-driven world, it often seems invention gives birth to necessity.

Was there really a burning need for the Pet Rock, the hula hoop, the ShamWow, or a fourth down in football? Maybe not, but they still got invented.

Canadians are no slouches when it comes to inventing things of both real and dubious value.

Not surprisingly, given our climate and inclinations, the snow machine, the snow blower, the electric car heater, table hockey, the curved hockey stick, the jockstrap, the hockey mask, and instant replay all originated here.

So, alas, did the frozen dinner, instant mashed potatoes, and poutine.

While we’re in the kitchen, it’s worth noting that Canadians invented the garbage bag, the blue recycling box, the egg carton, the electric oven, and Easy-Off to clean it.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the Canadarm is a homegrown product, but many people don’t realize Canadians also gave the world the prosthetic hand, the electric wheelchair, the cardiac pacemaker, the electron microscope, sonar and the antigravity suit.

Most of us know insulin was a Canadian discovery, but what about kerosene, the light bulb, the fingerprint reader, the paint roller, the alkaline battery, the jolly jumper, or the electronic organ?

New Zealand deserves the blame for Daylight Savings Time, but Canada can proudly lay claim to introducing universal standard time.

But two Canadian innovations above all bind and uplift our world: the zipper and the Wonderbra.

Mankind’s third greatest invention: Canada, eh?