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Incredible Inventions

Light Bulb

Inventors: Henry Woodward (dates unknown), Matthew Evans (dates unknown)

Patent for Woodward & Evans' Electric Light, July 24, 1874, with diagrams of the invention

Patent for Woodward & Evans' Electric Light, July 24, 1874

Did you think Thomas Edison invented the light bulb? Many scientists from various countries had been working for many years to develop a long-lasting light bulb. Toronto medical student Henry Woodward was one Canadian who was working on the problem, with help from Matthew Evans, a Toronto innkeeper. Around 1873 or 1874, they invented a glass bulb that housed a carbon filament and nitrogen gas. They patented it in 1874.

Unfortunately, they didn't have enough money to produce and sell the light bulbs, so a year later they sold the patent to… you guessed it: American inventor Thomas Edison!

Photograph of Thomas Edison with a handwritten message, 1929

Thomas Edison

Photograph of an electric lamp post on a city street corner, 1916

Electric lamp post, Metcalfe Street looking north, Ottawa, 1916

Photograph of a gas lamp post on the corner of an unpaved street, 1882

Gas lamp post, Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, April 1882


Black, Harry. Canadian Scientists and Inventors. Markham, Ontario: Pembroke Publishers, 1997.

Hughes, Susan. Canada Invents, Toronto: Owl Books, 2002.