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Published: August 8th 2013
Baddeck Harbour, Cape Breton
7 August, 2013
After breakfasting together this morning, the four of us loaded into our truck for more sightseeing on beautiful Cape Breton. First stop was in Baddeck’s visitor center for directions to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and museum. The museum sits across the road from Baddeck’s harbor (harbour in Canada,) which today happened to be having a regatta. So this corner of Bras d’Or Lake was full of sailboats with colorful sails going in all directions, or so it appeared. The gardens of the Bell museum were beautiful with lots of flowering plants.
We were all surprised at the variety of inventions Bell created. His father was creator of visible speech, a way of teaching the deaf to speak. Bell worked with his father in this field, but was also encouraged in his love of invention by his grandfather. Bell’s mother was progressively deaf, but was an accomplished pianist. His wife, who had been one of his pupils, was also deaf. He was involved in creating a multiple message telegraph when he became interested in transmitting sound. His financial backers wanted him to stick to the telegraph, but when he came up with the first
One of Alexander Graham Bell's early flight experiments
telephone, they were quick to patent it. Although he was born in Scotland, his parents moved first to London, then Ontario, Canada, after two of his brothers died of Tuberculosis. He did a good bid of his work in Boston, then Washington, DC, and visited Cape Breton, where he had a summer house built.
After the telephone, he became interested in flight. He began with tetrahedral kite flight experiments, and later formed a partnership with others interested in flight (including Glen H. Curtiss, who is well known in my hometown) called the Aerial Experiment Association. Bell’s airplane, “Silver Dart,” made the first controlled, powered flight in Canada and the British Empire. Besides flight, he also was interested in hydrofoil boats and set the world marine speed record with his fourth hydrofoil boat, “HD-4,” in 1919.
From Baddeck we drove east to Glace Bay, where we stopped at the Miner’s Museum. Coal mining was very big in Cape Breton, but oil later took the place of coal for heating and other uses, and the coal industry dwindled.
Next we went to Marconi National Historic Site in Glace Bay. It’s a bit out of the way, we got varying
Alexander Graham Bell's airplane, first controlled Canadian flight
directions from several people before we found it. In 1902, Marconi sent the first official wireless message across the Atlantic Ocean from this site via a copper wire antenna suspended from four giant wooden towers. There was a nice old gent named Jim, a real radio buff, who talked to us for half an hour about the place when Marconi was there. They still transmit to other radio enthusiasts around the world in Morse Code.
Between Baddeck and Glace Bay we stopped at a couple of overlooks with more breathtaking views. First above St. Ann’s Bay, then part of Bras d’Or Lake and the bridge to Seal Island.
It was another day of sensory overload on Cape Breton Island.
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