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.

 





Spring is here at last – well maybe!

31 03 2013

This Easter week-end has marked the beginning of some warmer weather here in Nova Scotia. Yesterday we went to Kejimkujik Seaside, which is a National Park.

You can see our walk on Googlemaps.

http://goo.gl/maps/ND7gJ

We started out by walking the rocky shore  along Boyd’s Cove and MacLeod’s Cove.A

There is a rough track in places

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The sea was very blue – I did not touch up this photo.

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Parts of the coastal track had been washed away the last time we walked here. Another path has been cut, a bit further from the shore, through the trees.

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And the  boardwalk has been repaired in places or totally renewed, like this section.

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Unlike Europe, the ‘history’ here is not very old. This is the ruin of the house of Hugh Cameron, a shepherd on St Catherine’s River Farm in the early 1900’s. But sheep farming here was a harsh existence and the land was eventually given to the Federal Government and became the Seaside Adjunct of the Kejimkujik National Park.

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Yesterday, the bay was full of lobster boats, the better weather a pleasant change for these fishermen, who are only allowed to fish here on this part of the shore during the winter months! It has been a tough time for them – probably harder than sheep farming!

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In my last post about this park, I added this photo of a wrecked boat that we spotted sitting high and dry on Little Hope Island.

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There used to be a concrete lighthouse on the island until just after Hurricane Juan in 2003, when it collapsed.

This amazing photo was taken by Jeff Tutty of Hunts Point, Nova Scotia in August 2003 and the wrecked boat was already there!

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Seemingly, the crew of the Lady Helen  fell asleep!!

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I didn’t have my tele-photo lens with me yesterday, but the boat has gone and the rocky island is hardly visible above the water.

We continued round to the sandy beach

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and walked as far as is possible.Beach-1

Then it was back to the car – a total of 14 km.

The forecast for this week is back to freezing most days, so maybe Spring isn’t here yet.

If you’d like to see Kejimkujik in the summer, with the birds and flowers, you can look at the blogs I wrote in 2009.

https://queensincanada.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/kejimkujik-national-park-part-1/

https://queensincanada.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/kejimkujik-part-2/