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.





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?