This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The traceable luggage.
Even the simplest innovations need to start somewhere. Consider the humble baggage tag. In the early years of rail travel – 1882 to be exact – John Michael Lyons of Moncton, New Brunswick, came up with the idea of baggage handlers writing each passenger’s name, departure point, and destination on a separate tag. Each tag would then be torn in two, with the top portion attached to the passenger’s bag and the bottom portion kept by the passenger. This simple system made it easy for travelers to find their bags at the end of their trips. It even made it possible for lost baggage to be traced, found, and eventually reunited with its owner. The patent office called this advance in transportation the separable coupon ticket. Today, we call it the baggage tag, the first traceable luggage.