He is more than just the inventor of the telephone. He’s an expat who came not just to Canada, not just to Nova Scotia, but to Cape Breton Island. Just like me. Though he was born in Scotland, not America. He was a teacher for the deaf. I think my kids are deaf, sometimes. He was an inventor. The only thing I’ve invented so far are new ways to annoy DW. In that I am excelling.
Alec came to Canada, originally to an area near Brampton, Ontario, in 1870. This is 130 years after the British destroyed the French Fortress of Louisbourg. Once here, he continued working on methods to teach the deaf. He created the System of Visible Speech which helped deaf students learn to speak by allowing them to visualize the sounds.
Mabel Hubbard’s inability to hear inspired her father to work with those who were also deaf. He also founded the first school for the deaf in the US, the Clarke School for the Deaf. She eventually became one of Alexander’s pupils. Because she was educated in both Europe and the US she learned to speak and lip read in four language. When she was 19 and he 29 they married at her family’s house.
One story says that during arguments Mabel would turn her back on Alec so that she could not read his lips effectively making his argument null and void.
On March 10, 1876, just 3 days after receiving his patent, Bell spoke to his colleague, Thomas Watson, through his telephone
Come here. I want to see you.
Watson heard him clearly on the other end of the line. Wouldn’t they be impressed to see how far advanced his telephone is today? No wires needed. Though maybe not. Shortly after the telephone’s success, he and a partner developed a way to transmit a voice message on a beam of light. He would later say that that was his greatest accomplishment. Little did he know this achievement would directly lead to fiber-optic communication.
That wasn’t all of Bell’s accomplishments.
He created a metal detector which was successfully used on a patient to find a bullet, though the patient died. Unfortunately, the patient was President James Garfield.
He created hydrofoils – a slight combination of boat and plane.
He worked extensively with kites. His favorite being tetrahedral (triangular pyramid) that were so big they had to be towed with a boat to gain lift.
In 1909, Bell and his associates witnessed their plane, The Silver Dart, take flight from the frozen Bras d’Or Lake, becoming the first powered flight in Canada.
What’s even more is that we where it all happened. Baddeck, Nova Scotia. There is a museum dedicated to Alexander Graham Bell’s life and works. The boys got to make their own kite. They got to see exactly how Alec lived and taught and all that he created. They saw a life size hydrofoil. They saw the Silver Dart. They got to see the 37 room house of the Bells (from the outside). They got to take a ride on a 67′ schooner, the Amoeba, on the lake where Alexander performed his experiments with kites and hydrofoils. On the lake of which The Silver Dart took flight.
Fun Fact Bonus!
Beinn Bhreagh means “beautiful mountain”. The house has 37 rooms, 11 of them are bedrooms. It has 17 fireplaces. It cost them $22,000 1893 dollars to complete and sits on 600 acres.