|“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”George Bernard Shaw|
Before telephones came into our lives we were happy twanging strings connecting two pipes, cans, match boxes, paper cups happy in our acoustical wonders. We continued with the toy contraptions, smugly coquettish or prankish depending on gender and mood…..something like the love birds enjoying their me-time (Bow River, Calgary, Canada)… till inventions took over.
Romanticism gave way to practicality when Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) invented an “apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically”. The instrument perforated our lives with newer and newer avatars that today we find ourselves jostling for space like these ducks in a village near Taizhou, China. Bell rightly concurred…..
On our road trip through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island we stopped at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. The sprawling, 10 hectare Historic Site, overlooking the picturesque Bras d’Or Lakes, chronicles the achievements, the life of Alexander Graham Bell. On display is a rich collection of artifacts and documents affording a glimpse into the extraordinary capabilities of this world-famous inventor accountable for configuring how the modern world communicated. The Historic Site is a cornucopia of inventions from airplanes to kites, deaf education and artificial respiration, photos and full-scale replicas that highlight Bells career as an engineer, inventor, scientist and humanitarian. It was a surprise as our knowledge was limited to Alexander Bell, a Scottish American, inventor of the telephone.
There are regular tours but we preferred to explore on our own following the crowds as they ambled around from ‘The Parlour’ showcasing Bells personal items…notebook, walking stick, his favourite jacket; ‘The Workshop’ to view his extraordinary engineering skills featuring the Silver Dart airplane (1909), the first power controlled aeroplane to fly in Canada; the HD-4 hydrofoil high speed boat, that in its maiden voyage, in 1918, achieved a test run of 70.86 miles per hour (114km/h) and was declared the fastest boat in the world; displays of wire & light transmission of speech and sound; kites…. changing our perception. The humble quintessential communication instrument, the ordinary telephone, assumed gargantuan significance in this august company.
The Site also features exhibits of Bell’s family life with wife Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell to whom he gave his entire stock holdings of the Bell Telephone Company (except 10 shares), as wedding gift on day of their wedding.
The view of Lake from the Exhibition Hall ceiling to floor glass windows is simply awesome. Equally irresistible was the walk in the grounds watching the kites soar.
Alexander Graham Bell came to Baddeck in 1885 ( had already invented the telephone ) and a year later returned to establish a vacation home for his family, Beinn Bhreagh. The present residence is maintained by his descendants along with other historic outbuildings e.g. the Kite House, the Lodge, and the Kia Ora boathouse. The graves of Alexander Graham Bells and his wife Mabel are located on the Beinn Bhreagh estate but there is no public access to this property.
Address: 559 Chebucto Street, Baddeck, Nova Scotia B0E 1B0 Canada