Bell’s father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell’s life’s work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. In retrospect, Bell considered his most famous invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.
The museum features artifacts donated in 1955 from the Bell family’s personal museum, located in the Kite House at Beinn Bhreagh. The museum also features memorabilia associated with Bell’s experiments, including: the original HD-4 hull of a hydrofoil boat that set the world speed record here in Baddeck of over 70 MPH in 1919; a full-scale replica of that boat; the AEA Silver Dart which in 1909 J.A.D. MacCurdy piloted up into the air over the ice of Baddeck Bay to become the first heavier than air craft to be flown in Canada and possibly the British Empire — plus many other exhibits and documents from Bell’s years of research activities on the transmission of speech and sound by wire and by light, as well as his experiments with kites, planes and high speed boats. The museum also features displays relating to Bell’s work with the deaf and how it led to the invention of the telephone.
In addition to its displays, the museum features an observation deck on the roof of the building which offers a view of Alexander Graham Bell’s Beinn Bhreagh estate across the Bay.
In 1870, at age 23, Bell, his brother’s widow, Caroline (Margaret Ottaway), and his parents travelled on the SS Nestorian to Canada. After landing at Quebec City the Bells transferred to another steamer to Montreal and then boarded a train to Paris, Ontario, to stay with the Reverend Thomas Henderson, a family friend. After a brief stay with the Hendersons, the Bell family purchased a farm of 10.5 acres (42,000 m2) at Tutelo Heights (now called Tutela Heights), near Brantford, Ontario. The property consisted of an orchard, large farm house, stable, pigsty, hen-house and a carriage house, which bordered the Grand River.At the homestead, Bell set up his own workshop in the converted carriage house near to what he called his “dreaming place”, a large hollow nestled in trees at the back of the property above the river. Despite his frail condition upon arriving in Canada, Bell found the climate and environs to his liking, and rapidly improved. He continued his interest in the study of the human voice and when he discovered the Six Nations Reserve across the river at Onondaga, he learned the Mohawk language and translated its unwritten vocabulary into Visible Speech symbols. For his work, Bell was awarded the title of Honorary Chief and participated in a ceremony where he donned a Mohawk headdress and danced traditional dances.
After setting up his workshop, Bell continued experiments based on Helmholtz’s work with electricity and sound. He also modified a melodeon (a type of pump organ) so that it could transmit its music electrically over a distance. Once the family was settled in, both Bell and his father made plans to establish a teaching practice and in 1871, he accompanied his father to Montreal, where Melville was offered a position to teach his System of Visible Speech.
By 1874, Bell’s initial work on the harmonic telegraph had entered a formative stage with progress it made both at his new Boston “laboratory” (a rented facility) as well as at his family home in Canada a big success. While working that summer in Brantford, Bell experimented with a “phonautograph”, a pen-like machine that could draw shapes of sound waves on smoked glass by tracing their vibrations. Bell thought it might be possible to generate undulating electrical currents that corresponded to sound waves. Bell also thought that multiple metal reeds tuned to different frequencies like a harp would be able to convert the undulating currents back into sound. But he had no working model to demonstrate the feasibility of these ideas.
In 1874, telegraph message traffic was rapidly expanding and in the words of Western Union President William Orton, had become “the nervous system of commerce”. Orton had contracted with inventors Thomas Edison and Elisha Gray to find a way to send multiple telegraph messages on each telegraph line to avoid the great cost of constructing new lines. When Bell mentioned to Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders that he was working on a method of sending multiple tones on a telegraph wire using a multi-reed device, the two wealthy patrons began to financially support Bell’s experiments. Patent matters would be handled by Hubbard’s patent attorney, Anthony Pollok.
In 1891, Bell had begun experiments to develop motor-powered heavier-than-air aircraft. The AEA was first formed as Bell shared the vision to fly with his wife, who advised him to seek “young” help as Alexander was at the graceful age of 60.
In 1898, Bell experimented with tetrahedral box kites and wings constructed of multiple compound tetrahedral kites covered in maroon silk. The tetrahedral wings were named Cygnet I, II and III, and were flown both unmanned and manned (Cygnet I crashed during a flight carrying Selfridge) in the period from 1907–1912. Some of Bell’s kites are on display at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.
This a special place in Canada’s heart and an amazing proud part of Nova Scotia’s history!
White Glove Tour Canadian Tourism Commission
|Location||559 Chebucto St, Baddeck, NS B0E 1B0||Phone||(902) 295-2069|
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