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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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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Fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

7 10 2013

Louisbourg, on the north east coast of Nova Scotia is an amazing visit and was the highlight of our trip to Cape Breton, last week.

You get an idea of the size of the town as you approach from across the bay.

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This is the Frederic gate, the access to the town from the sea. You can see it in the photo above too.

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This was how the harbour looked in 1730, with ships coming from France, Quebec, New England and the Caribbean.

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We walked to the Kings Bastion Barracks and Governors Apartments.

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This part of the building was the barracks.

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There we met a soldier who told us his sad tale. He had been enlisted into the army from the streets of Brest. He was promised a secure job, with good pay, food, a bed to sleep in and a roof over his head. All this in an exciting new country. He grabbed this opportunity and signed up for 6 years. After a stormy crossing he arrived in Canada and found that the reality was not what he’d hoped for.

AbpngHe had to stand on guard at this guard house for 24 hours – non stop, with no sleep. Anyone caught sleeping was punished. Usually made to side astride a wooden horse, with weights attached to their feet. Beds were shared by 3 soldiers, 2 sleeping while the other was on duty.

The pay was good, 9 livres a month, but after money was taken for his food and bed, he was left with only 1 1/2 livres a month. What was there to do, but drink that away to console himself. This poor soldier was only 30 years old, but looked much older. He did not think that he’d ever marry as the few women in the town preferred fishermen who made a lot of money and could support them.

As for getting out of the army, that did not seem possible as he had no money and was already in debt, so would be forced to sign up for another 6 years. It was all very depressing, yet he still managed to give us a smile. I hope he was not punished for speaking to us!

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The Fortress – a Fort is manned solely by military but a Fortress is a fortified town with civilians, like any other town – was founded by the French,  in 1713.

The main reason for this settlement  was the cod fishing on the Grand Banks. Cod fishing was so lucrative that it brought in more money in one year than all the years of fur trading!

The fish was salted and laid on stages to dry, before being exported.

The harbour was well defended, but on the landward side, there was little defence. The story goes that a British officer was being held prisoner at Louisbourg, but was allowed to roam free, as was the custom. He saw all the weaknesses in the landward side and when released back to New England told them how to attack. His information was actioned and led to the first fall of Louisbourg in 1745. This officer was deemed not to be a ‘gentleman’ for telling and was expelled from  the army.

Three years later the town was restored to the French, but was besieged a second time, in exactly the same manner as the first! The French had learnt nothing from the first attack!

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Opposite the Frederic gate is the Hotel de la Marine. This was where the soldiers, sailors and townspeople spent their money on food drink and entertainment.

There we had a very good meal of pea soup, followed by haddock and vegetables, served by costumed servers. We ate from pewter dishes and had only a pewter spoon to eat with.

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A juniper branch was used above the signs for ale houses and eating places as the towns people could not read.

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Further along the waterfront is the home of the Commissaire Ordonnateur. This was the person who kept all the accounts, paid the colony’s bills, compiled statistical accounts, and had a hand in local justice. Francois Bigot was the Commissaire Ordonnateur from 1739 to 1745 and was the sole resident of this huge house with 6 female servants. The system allowed  Bigot to misuse funds and build up his own fortune. This was his eventual downfall. He was tried, confiscated of all his property and exiled from France, in 1763.

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This was the home of Joseph Lartigue. He came to Louisbourg with the first settlers, from Newfoundland. He was a fisherman and trader, but because he could read and write, he became the town magistrate. Part of the house was used as a courtroom.

Lartigue and his wife had 12 children and several servants in this house and were thought to be well off in their day.

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The Dauphin Gate was the main land entrance to the town. It was manned around the clock by an officer and thirty soldiers.

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The  Royal coat of arms sat above the arch.
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You can walk around the ruined part of the town and see where the hospital, convent, mass graves, and breweries used to be.

Parks Canada has certainly done an impressive job of reconstructing Louisbourg and anyone who gets the chance should pay it a visit.

 





The Picton Castle Leaves for the South Pacific

3 11 2012

The Picton Castle has been back home in Lunenburg for the summer, preparing for her next voyage to the South Pacific.

She should have left port 2 weeks ago, but Captain Moreland decided to delay the departure due to the approaching Hurricane Sandy.

The crew were not allowed to lie around.

There was plenty to learn.

Today, friends, family and the people of Lunenburg went along to watch this old very special sailing ship leave. Everyone was busy on deck,

getting the jobs done.

And above decks,

putting all their training into action.

I’m sure this is easier done from the safety of the harbour, rather than at sea.

Everyone gathered to wish the crew a ‘Safe Journey.’

I only found out at the harbourside that Captain Moreland’s and Tammy Sharp’s baby son, Dawson, would be travelling on this trip.

It looks like they might be bringing their son up in the Cook Islands, at least for the next three years.

The sails were unfurled.

The safety boat was moved away for the departure.

Horns hooted, people cheered and applauded as the Picton Castle moved off.

Some had a last look at Lunenburg. The next stop will be Grenada, then through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos Islands, Pitcairn Island, French Polynesia, and then to the Cook Islands.

She is off now on another wonderful adventure. The people of Lunenburg will miss her and all of the lively, friendly, crew.





Tiare Taporo, Lunenburg

28 10 2012

In July of this year, I was walking along the path at the Foundry in Lunenburg, when I noticed this ship. The first day, it did not have the masts, but later in the week it looked like this. I wondered who would be converting a fishing boat to a sailing ship. The name on the side was Tiare Taporo, Avatiu. Avatiu is in the Cook Islands.

I went home to do some research.


The original Tiare Tapore was one of the very last ships to trade under sail in the Cook Islands and the South Pacific. You can read about her here.

http://pacificschooners.com/index.php/the-original-qtiare-taporoq.html

Pacific Schooners Limited, through the travels of the Picton Castle, became aware of the need for a passenger, cargo vessel, to go between the Cook Islands and the South Pacific. Having a vessel that could use wind power, would help save money on diesel.

So, where did this new Tiare Taporo come from?

Two fishing boats have been sitting in Lunenburg Harbour for some time. You will see them in the centre of this foggy photo I took. They are the green, black and mustard scallop draggers, the Zebroid and Primo, that belonged to Clearwater.

It was decide to convert the Zebroid into a new sailing, cargo vessel.

I found this excellent photo on Flickr, taken by Dennis Jarvis.

 

The Zebroid was taken to the dry dock, for work to begin on her hull. I did see her there, but didn’t realise that she was the ship I later saw at the Foundry. She looks much bigger out of the water.

 

Her sister ship, the Primo, still sits in her green paint.

I have read on the Tiare Taporo site, that the plan is for the ship to

  • carry 200 to 300 tons of break-bulk cargo including; frozen fish, fuel transport, freight, orders, govt supplies and trade goods.
  •  carry doctors and dentists as often as possible to provide specialist care for outer islanders.
  • take up to 30 passengers, 8 professional crew and 6 apprentices in comfortable cabins and bunks.
  • provide  a dependable regularly scheduled service to the islands.

The new, white, Tiare Taporo sits in the main harbour just now, alongside the Picton Castle, which is just about to head off on its next voyage to the South Pacific.

I have just looked at the last photos I took, before the Picton Castle went off for the summer and see that the Tiare Taporo was in the background.

I wonder when she will head off for her new life?





Painted Lady and Monarch Butterflies

12 09 2012

On a recent trip to Liverpool, we decided to take the Shore Road that leads to Western Head. The plan was to try to fish at the point near the lighthouse. That wasn’t really a possibility, but we were rewarded with the sight of a huge number of butterflies on the knapweed.

They were mainly Painted Ladies and were here by the hundreds.

They flew and settled continuously around me.

My eye was drawn to a few much larger butterflies – Monarchs.

It was only once I was home, that I noticed that this one had  torn wings.

The Monarch butterfly is famous for its migration from Mexico to Canada and then the reverse at the end of the summer.

Will this one make it to Mexico?

How many butterflies can you spot?

I tried to take a video to show the continuous movement of butterflies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpVRg7JmZhI&feature=plcp

It’s not very good, but this next one, which I found on you tube, really shows Monarchs in massive numbers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l42ca94m-bE





The Mystery of the Carved Stone in Nova Scotia

27 08 2012

On a recent coastal walk here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, we came across this interesting rock.

It lies among other boulders and looks as if it has been here for a very long time. But has it, is it an ancient petroglyph or is it a modern carving, done by someone having a bit of fun?

The carved scene is complicated and looks like St George and the Dragon, or some sea serpent, with a knight and horse.

 

It reminded me of photos I have of the Pictish Stones at Aberlemno, in Angus, Scotland.

This stone is carved on both sides. One face is decorated with an elaborate cross flanked by angels while the other shows a hunting scene.

This stone has several Pictish symbols; a serpent, a double disc and z-rod and a mirror and comb.  These Pictish stones date from the 6th to the 9th Century – so they’re very old!

This standing stone below, was in Glenshee near our pottery. It was known as ‘The Parliament Stane’, and was believed to be the place where Scottish Kings held parliament when they were on hunting trips in the Royal Forests in the area. There were no carvings or markings on the stone.

But back to the mystery in Nova Scotia.

I found this site with these photos of petroglyphs at Bedford.

http://www.nsexplore.ca/places/halifax-county/bedford-petroglyphs/

 

These are much shallower markings than the ones on my stone.

 

So, who carved this horse on the stone?

And this knight who has just killed the dragon?

And the creature with two heads?

 

The Mi’kmaq recorded images of people, animals, hunting and fishing. With the arrival of the Europeans, they began to include images of sailing ships, men hunting with muskets, soldiers, Christian altars and churches, and small items like coins and jack-knives.

 

Can anyone solve this mystery for me? Is this a modern day carving or is it an ancient stone, with a meaning?

 

Update – January 24th, 2017

 This post has attracted a lot of interest and comment.

In 2013, the Curator of Archaeology at the Nova Scotia Museum said it had been carved with a metal tool, so was probably done by a local artist.

Then the Director of Studies in History at Yale University said it was a clumsy copy of the Ramsund Carving.

                                                

 It is really very much a copy of this!
I continued to try to find out who had done the carving. Someone thought a local stone mason had carved it, but the name I was given said he had carved stones, but not this one.
Some theories that were voiced in the comments were that it was to do with the Knights Templar and Oak Island, a Memorial stone, the Halifax Chiseller, Rosslyn Chapel …………..
My photos have been copied and posted by someone, stating that this stone was covered in seaweed and seagull droppings, before it was cleaned up – with no photos to support such a claim!
I have tried several times to have a photo printed in the local newspaper, hoping that someone would solve this problem, but that never happened.
Last summer, I had a friend who is a dowser, look at the stone. He was very excited by it and gave me this report.
The runestone is genuine and was created in 1167 during the month of October.
Three men were committed to creating this wonderful original which took them 7 days to complete.
The process used in creating this masterpiece is still a puzzle except that heat was used before the caring as carried out. no chisels were used.
At the period of carving the stone was further inland. However, due to environmental changes, erosion of the coast, the stone was finally situated on the beach. Much of the erosion was caused by ice pushing up against the cliffs in winter periods during the small ice age which finally ended in the late 1800s.
The stone is currently buried to a depth beneath the beach of nearly 3 metres. In other words there is more stone beneath the beach than above it.
There are 6 ley lines ( earth energy lines) crossing the centre of the stone. All are positive- some male others female.
I put my post onto the Local Lunenburg Community Facebook Page and was told that this carving was done in the 1980,s by the nephew of 2 artists who came to the nearby beach cottage for the summer.
Now this is the one story that makes sense to me – no mystery or magic – just someone having fun and leaving their mark on the beach, and causing a good bit of discussion.
I think the mystery of the stone has been solved!




The Tall Ships Visit Lunenburg – 2012

24 07 2012

Today, I watched from my window as some of the tall ships battled their way into Lunenburg Harbour.

They were hardly visible though the rain and squall.

But they all made it safely into port.

The Pride of Baltimore is a frequent visitor to Lunenburg and I have already written a Blog about her.

 

https://queensincanada.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/pride-of-baltimore-arrives-in-lunenburg/

I love looking up into the rigging of these sailing ships. I have taken so many photos of the patterns of the ropes and masts, I feel I should use the patterns in a painting.

The Roseway was designed  to challenge the Bluenose in the international schooner races of the 1920s and ’30s and is an original ship, rather than a replica.

Unfortunately, the Blunose did not make it into the water as hoped. It looks like it will be next year before she sails.

I saw some of these ships at the Tall Ships Festival in Halifax in 2008.

 

https://queensincanada.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/tall-ships-festival-halifax/

The Tall ship Providence is a replica of America’s first warship.

The Lynx is a replica of it’s namesake that sailed during  the American War of 1812.

In contrast to these ships, the luxury motor yacht, Solaia, also arrived in Lunenburg last night.

I always enjoy the toing and froing around a working harbour.