It was a Humber professor’s experiences while teaching that inspired his new book.
Throughout his teaching career, Professor Mark Rector has collected stories about Canadian inventors and inventions as learning material for students in his electronics engineering classes.
This led to his latest book, published in August. Oh Canada! Our Home and Inventive Land! chronicles the history of Canadian firsts in industry, technology and society.
“It started with a couple of handouts to inspire my students to get interested in Canadian inventions related to electronics, and turned into a 337-page book, sixteen years later,” he laughs.
Rector has presented and sold his finished work all over Canada, including recently at the War Plane Heritage Museum, and has many more tour dates planned.
Rector completed research for the book during his sabbatical in 2016, during which time he traveled across the country and had the opportunity to meet with members of inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s family in Nova Scotia. “It was a fascinating resource, learning from his family,” he says.
Rector even made a few new discoveries himself. His research revealed that Bell developed his initial ideas for telephone technology while he spent time on the Grand River near his home in Brantford.
Twenty years later, Reginald Fessenden was on the Grand River, too – forty miles up river near Fergus – and was inspired by the ripples in the water to create continuous wave technology. “I was astounded to find that out and put it together,” says Rector. “On the same river, Bell comes up with voice on a wire for telephone, Fessenden with voice on a radio wave – mind-blowing.”
As a professor of electronics engineering, Rector is all too familiar with complex concepts and says he wanted his book to be accessible to a wide audience. The book features many photos and the stories are easy to read. Rector’s students will benefit, too, as during his research, he discovered more material he can use in his classes.
“I still use those handouts today,” he says. “Now, I can hold up the book and say, here’s the full story.”
To purchase a copy of Mark Rector’s book, Oh Canada! Our Home and Inventive Land! please visit professormarkrector.com