9 August 2016 Our last day on Cape Breton - Alexander Graham Bell Museum - Baddeck Festival

Beinn Breagh

     You probably know all about Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel, as I thought I did until I spent several hours in his museum seeing and hearing about his multitude of inventions. Then I realized that all I REALLY knew was that he invented the telephone.  That was small change in comparison to his other accomplishments but that invention did establish him financially enabling him to pursue other endeavorsHe and Mabel were brilliant.  As he came up with ideas for other inventions, she was right beside him with encouragement and her own theories.

    This museum really intrigued me much more than I'd anticipated.  Bell built kites hoping they would be able to lift a man into the air and he called them Flying Machines. Eventually he invented an airplane so to Canada, he's what the Wright Brothers are to America.  A hydrofoil boat was another invention that Mabel got to ride in but her husband never did. She claimed to've loved the exhilaration of the speed and her proximity to the water.  He invented the  photophone; electroscope which fell into disuse in 1900 with television taking its place. Of course, the telephone, demonstrated to the Queen in 1878, was just grabbing the attention of the people but when he died in 1922, 13 million phones had already be sold.  

    You'll find the museum on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lakes overlooking Baddeck Bay and Kidston Island. The stunning grounds are open and inviting, making it a popular spot to picnic and fly kites. Several children were out on the lawn flying the kites they had made in their workshop. If you look southwest, you’ll spot Baddeck's harbor, boardwalk and wharf. From the museum's roof-top deck, you can see the headlands of Beinn Bhreagh (Gaelic for "beautiful mountain"), Bell’s beloved summer home. The Gaelic influence still remains in this area with a Gaelic college, bag pipes, fiddles, and dancing---as is evident in the name the Bells gave to their retreat.  The Bells visited the Cape Breton area in 1885, fell in love with the land, the Gaelic charm, and the people, soon moved there for their summers.

     The lakes were important to Bell's experimental work.  In the early 1900's, his experiments about aviation and kites were launched from rafts towed behind boats and even from a steamship.  Traveling around the lakes in their houseboat and in later years on the yacht "Elsie", became a source of enjoyment for the Bell family and their friends.

     Seeing their home from our sailing cruise the day before and being up close and personal with their history and love story was unforgettable. Deaf from childhood, Mabel never heard the ring of the telephone nor the roar of the Silver Dart, her husband's airplane, but she became one of the century’s most influential advocates for women, children, and the arts.  Overlooking Baddeck Bay, the Bells found repose from the hectic life that followed the invention of the telephone. From kites and flights to schools and libraries, they changed the world.


     Mr. Bell said, "I have travelled the globe.  I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton out rivals them all."

     We concluded our last day on Cape Breton with steamed mussels bought and steamed on the city harbor's dock and sat on a picnic bench inhaling the fresh air, observing the marine goings-on, and relishing every single morsel.

      At the festival we saw the Mi'Kmaq people who've been on the island for some 10,000 years and whose native language and history have been preserved mainly through the oral tradition.  They continue to be skilled in crafts such as basket making, working with hides, and using beads or quills on birch bark and hides.  Their arts were displayed so we were able to appreciate their work and dedication to preserving their heritage.

     We talked with a man who drives a school bus and the drive over the mountains to school is a 2 hour ride twice a day.  The students spend 6 hours in class and 4 on the bus every single day.   

      As we leave Cape Breton and Nova Scotia to begin our migration south, we became very fond of the area and the people. The locals (everywhere we went) were very friendly and seemed to love to talk.  They speak in many different languages and that, along with the relative isolation of the beautiful island, has helped preserve the cultures of the people.  Cape Breton is home to many beautiful and fascinating cultures--Celtic, Aboriginal, Celtic, and French to name a few.

     Again, we love the area, the people, and everything about it.  I felt so 'at home' here and everyone with whom I came in contact made me feel like I belonged.

Bill and Laura
Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia



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