Innovation in Durham Timeline (Part 3) – From CANDU reactors in Pickering to Ajax’ Search Engine People


Published October 22, 2021 at 10:57 am

From CANDU nuclear reactors to Father Goose to search engine optimization, Durham Region inventors and entrpreneurs continued to shine a bright light on innovation through the end of the 20th century and into the early years of this one.

Our innovators began to spread their wings as well, with less dependence on the automotive industry and more attention to new technologies and new industries of today, with advancements in health care, the film industry, space travel and computer algorithms, to name just a few.


CANDU Reactor The CANDU reactor proven at Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations is listed as one of Canada’s top ten engineering achievements of the previous 100 years by a jury of Canadian engineering professionals.


Colpitts Design Inc. Colpitts Design Inc. is founded in Uxbridge. The company specializes in rapid prototype design and manufacturing; building products for the medical, garden, automotive and film industries. Today Colpitts Design works with Ontario Tech University’s automotive program and creates props for Hollywood blockbusters. Credits include work for films such as X-Men, Robocop, Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad.


Fly Away Home William ‘Bill’ Lishman, an award-winning sculptor, filmmaker, inventor, naturalist and public speaker, pioneers ultra-light aviation in Canada, becoming the first person to lead a flight of geese with an aircraft, eventually conducting the first aircraft-led migration of birds from his home in rural Scugog in 1993. He made a short film about the migration for PBS Television Network that was eventually optioned for the 1996 Academy Award winning film, Fly Away Home.


Omachron Group of Companies Wayne Conrad, a scientist based in rural Clarington, founds Omachron Group of Companies. Today, Conrad holds close to 600 patents, including a space-age water treatment system that NASA adopted for the International Space Station.


Lakeridge Health Lakeridge Health is formed when Durham-area hospitals are merged to create a leading health system focused on improving the overall wellness of one of fastest growing areas of Ontario. Today Lakeridge Health has five hospitals, four Emergency Departments, more than twenty community healthcare locations, a dedicated team of more than 5,400 employees, 760 physicians and 1,500 volunteers.


Ontario Tech University Ontario Tech University opens its doors as Ontario’s first laptop-based university and has continued to evolve into a tech-focused institution that embeds the latest technology into its teaching and learning practices, administrative processes and innovative research projects. Today, Ontario Tech is ranked first in Canada in cross-sector research among undergraduate universities, and draws in more than 10,000 full-time students, including more than 1000 international students from 65 countries.


Search Engine People (SEP) After launching in 2001 with a focus on Search Engine Optimization, in 2006 Search Engine People become a full-service agency and is named the first-ever Canadian Partner in the Google Partner Program. Today SEP is recognized as one of the best SEO and digital marketing companies in Canada. Founder Jeff Quipp eventually became a founding board member of the Spark Angel Network, an angel investing group focused on tech start-ups in Durham Region.


The Clean Energy Research Laboratory The Clean Energy Research Laboratory (CERL) opens at Ontario Tech University. CERL houses the first lab-scale demonstration of a copper-chlorine cycle for thermochemical water splitting and nuclear hydrogen production. Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier of the future and potentially a major solution to the problem of climate change.


Trent University Durham GTA Trent University opens a campus on Thornton Road in Oshawa, building upon forty years of Trent education programs available in Durham Region. Today, Trent University Durham GTA offers undergraduate degrees, masters degrees and post-graduate programs to nearly 2,000 students.


Spark Centre The Spark Centre is founded in 2010, and in 2012, Durham’s Regional Innovation Centre locates in downtown Oshawa. Spark Centre supports start-ups by providing commercialization and services to innovative and technology-based entrepreneurs. By 2019, Spark grows into a 9000-square foot innovation space and begins graduating clients to the new 1855 tech accelerator in Whitby.

Photo Bruce Power/Cameco

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