7 best toys and games to originate in Canada

Canada has claims to the origins of ice hockey, basketball and five-pin bowling, but maybe it’s something about long, cold winters that inspires us to invent other pastimes. (In 2010, Canadian firms accounted for between six and eight per cent of global toy sales.)

1. Bakugan Battle Brawler: One of the top-selling toys in the world during its peak, a Bakugan was sold every 2.5 seconds in December 2008. Manufacturer Spin Master toys of Toronto is the world’s third-biggest toymaker.

2. Balderdash: Selling more than 15 million copies to date, this game combining trivia and bluffing was developed by Toronto residents Laura Robinson and Paul Toyne in 1984. A Balderdash television show briefly aired in 2004 and 2005.

3. Crokinole: In this game that combines elements of curling and shuffleboard, players flick discs to score points on the innermost rings of the board. The game is believed to have originated in Ontario in the 1870s. Each June, players meet in Tavistock, Ont., at the World Crokinole Championships, where they compete for $6,000 in cash and prizes.

4. Mega Bloks: The jumbo plastic building blocks were created in 1985 and are a mega-hit worldwide; they’re sold in more than 100 nations. Mega Brands, inventor of the toy, has been hailed as one of Quebec’s great success stories, with plants in Montreal, the U.S. and China, though it is still recovering from a brush with bankruptcy in 2010.

5. Rummoli: First marketed by the Copp Clark Publishing Company in 1940, the game requires a Rummoli board, chips and a deck of cards. It combines aspects of poker and rummy.

6. Tabletop hockey: The first commercial tabletop games were designed by Toronto’s Donald H. Munro in 1933. Munro built his prototype from scavenged scraps of metal and wood as a Christmas present for his children.

7. Trivial Pursuit: Formulated by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in Montreal in 1979, the game that tests general knowledge has gone on to sell more than 88 million copies. Initial investors in the game earned $500,000 for every $1,000 staked.

Source: Company websites; news reports; University of Waterloo Elliott Avedon Museum and Archive of Games

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