Alexander Graham Bell

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Beinn Bhreagh (I say Ben Bree-uh) Alexander and Mabel’s home

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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A Living Museum from 1745

©Eric Wood/allinadadswork.wordpress.com

Imagine living in a remote location, possible across a cold, giant ocean. Also, it’s 250 years ago. The village you have settled is among the best fishing waters in the world. Your village’s currency is now cod. Though, you yourself still deal with your native France’s livre. In the summer there would be 7-8,000 people. Just 1 or 2,000 come winter time. It was so successful, so profitable that walls 30 feet high were built. 800 soldiers are commissioned to protect the fishing grounds and the village. 400 fishing vessels fill the harbor every day.

Today, just one fifth of that village and it’s reconstructed buildings exist. Its inhabitants are merely actors, characters to educate. Today, a living museum stands in its place. It is a very interesting piece of history.

Settled in 1713 by France the fishing port grew and by the mid 1740s it was the 3rd busiest port in North America after Boston and Philadelphia. The British, seeing it’s success, laid siege to the fortress in 1745 and won. The French tried and failed to take it back the following year. In 1748, the British returned it to France for lands in Austrian Netherlands and a trading post in India. In 1754 a few skirmishes developed into the French and Indian War which expanded into the Seven Years’ War in 1756. In 1758 the British regained control of the fortress after a six week siege. Two years later the British systematically destroyed the fortifications to prevent the French from using the port when peace returned to Cape Breton Island.

Upon our arrival a French soldier greeted us in full uniform complete with musket. He informed us we needed to be out by 5:00 before the gates closed. Should we not be out before the closing we would be stuck inside the fortress but not to worry, there would be plenty of space in the jail to sleep. Our poor little Bang, seeing a soldier in uniform with a gun five feet long, didn’t understand that he was just an actor and he couldn’t stop his tears. Fortunately, the soldier was kind-hearted and gently explained that he was only kidding. He showed him hat (which had fake hair on it to make it look like he had a pony tail) and his gun. Bang was good after that.

On our journey to the Fortress we told the boys that they could ask questions to the people there. Anything they wanted to know they could ask. All the people have French names so they could even ask them that. They are in character and will answer your question as if it is 1740. The Blacksmith, for instance, started working with his father in the forge when he was 7.


FB_IMG_1500347450259There was a cannon demonstration, too. Atop the fortress wall, from the hill upon which the top picture was taken, were two cannons (though they faced outward, of course). Once was loaded with six pounds of gunpowder and fired. The boys (and their parents) were seriously impressed. After the firing we were allowed to approach the armaments to see them for ourselves and to talk to the soldiers in charge. We were informed that the cannons could fire a cannonball 2 miles and it would take about 22 seconds to reach its target. Though the cannon was only accurate at a mile and a half. Again, we were impressed.


After that we listened to another soldier tell us about the muskets. How they work, how to use them, and how to fire it. We even got to see it fired. We were told that musketballs were extremely inaccurate, 50 yards was their maximum range. Soldiers weren’t to fire until they could see the whites of the enemies eyes. This demonstration was Bang’s favorite part of the day.

Just before we left, just before the gates closed, we saw a smaller cannon fire. The boys were impressed by the sound of it. Just think of what it sounded like with all 100 cannons firing along with those on the ships that were storming the harbor!

It was definitely a learning experience and one I hope the boys remember if not forever, at least for a very long time. Characters, questions, cannons, muskets, costumes, buildings, animals, blacksmiths, bread makers…

One busy port