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 Inuit fisher’s insurance.
When exposed to Canada’s frigid waters—both coastal and inland—you will often perish more quickly from heat loss than drowning. Inuit whale fishers knew this truth. They made what are known as spring-pelts, which are sealskin or seal gut stitched together to create a waterproof covering for their torsos. These early life jackets evolved, more insulated and buoyant over time, until they became the sailor’s salvation we know today.