Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Baddeck, Cape Breton

20 10 2013

While we were at Cape Breton, we visited the Alexander Graham Bell Museum at Baddeck.

As my fellow Scots would agree, we were taught at school, that A G Bell invented the telephone. So, I was not prepared for the surprise and enlightenment that awaited me, for Alexander Graham Bell was a prolific inventor.

A

Bell visited Baddeck in 1885 and fell in love with the surroundings.

He said, “I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all!”

He built his family’s summer home, Beinn Bhreagh, just across from where the museum is built, on a peninsula on the Bras d’Or Lake.

A1

We were met at the door by Alexander himself, and his wife, Mabel.

A2

He was the inventor while she managed the business issues. When Alexander had an idea for a new invention, he would grab whatever came to hand, whether it was Italian silk fabric to use on a tetrahedral kite, or a wooden blind to design an aeroplane propeller.

A3

His fascination with kites led to his designing kites which would carry a man.

The Cygnet I, made of 3393 cells flew on December 6, 1907, manned by Lt. Thomas Selfridge. Selfridge lay in a space in the centre of the kite, moving his weight to control it. The Cygnet was towed by a steamer and rose to 168 feet for 7 minutes. However, when the wind dropped the kite came down on the water and was draggged along, destroying it.

cygnet

AGB moved his attention to other flying machines.

The  Aerial Experiment Association was formed at Baddeck, in October 1907. Their work progressed to heavier-than-air machines, applying their knowledge of kites to gliders. Their final aircraft design was the Silver Dart. It was flown in February, 1909 and was the first aircraft flight in Canada.

firstflight

A full-scale replica of The Silver Dart is on display at the museum.

A4This replica was flown by former astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason across Baddeck Bay in February 2009.

A5Bell had been working on hydrofoils as a means to help aeroplanes take off from water.

After several designs and protypes the HD-4 was built.

A8a

It was a sleek grey giant with a cigar-shaped hull sixty feet long, riding on two sets of hydrofoils, one forward and one aft.

A8

On each side was a small hull attached to a solid, streamlined outrigger.

A7

On September 9, 1919, the HD-4  set a world’s marine speed record of 70.86 miles per hour, a record that stood for ten years.

al_hd4_1919

Bell managed to get both the British Navy and the United States Navy interested in his design, but neither navy saw fit to place an order. In the fall of 1921, the HD-4 was dismantled. Its big grey hull lay for decades on the shore at Beinn Bhreah, before it was eventually cut into sections and taken to the museum.

Among a few of his other inventions, Bell invented pasteurization,an audiometer (a device to detect minor hearing problems),  a photophone (a wireless telephone)  and the metal detector.
Like the Louisbourg Fortress, this is another wonderful museum run by Parks Canada.

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2 responses

20 10 2013
sybil

How did I manage to miss that museum ? Clearly it’s worth a visit. I never knew Bell invented all those other things …

31 12 2013
Sartenada

A museum worth for a visit. Gorgeous photos!

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