Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Baddeck Nova Scotia Canada Landmark in Canada's History

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site records an important part of Nova Scotian and Canadian History


The site of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum just outside Baddeck Nova Scotia Canada is so visually appealing. The property is a 10 ha. site that has stunning views out over the waters of the Bras d'Or Lakes. The museum itself is a very attractive design. The grounds and gardens are beautiful. Because of that, merely arriving at the location and taking in the surroundings feels worthy of making a stop on a road trip. 

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
A plaque at the Historic Site. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
View from grounds out over Bras d'Or Lakes Nova Scotia Canada. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
Building from the front. Photo by Diana Mohrsen

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site Self Guided Tour

The museum is in a large A-frame building. At first one moves past a number of large signs showing the time line of events in Alexander Graham Bell's life. Descriptions are in both official languages, French and English. These are very easy to read and are an attractive way to impart information to visitors. At the same time a gently sloping floor takes you deeper into the building.  

From Stories to Artifacts to Presentation Hall

The walls are used to tell stories, using pictures and descriptive paragraphs. Then artifacts and memorabilia are displayed. The Bell family donated these in 1955 from their personal collection. Notably, many items in the exhibits are associated with experiments that Alexander Graham Bell worked on. Eventually the visitors will come upon a large Presentation Hall with a replica of the AEA Silver Dart overhead. 

Bell begins work on the multiple telegraph. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
Bell co-founds the National Geographic Society. Photo by Diana Mohrsen

Alexander Graham Bell and the Telephone

Prior to visiting the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, all I knew about him was that he was born in Scotland, moved to Nova Scotia, and invented the telephone. Until now that seemed more than enough reason to get recorded on the pages of history. But I was about to be amazed at the true extent of Alexander Graham Bell's engineering and creativity. 

More about Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh Scotland in 1847. He was educated in Scotland and London. In due time he immigrated to Canada with his parents. He was only 23 years old then. He was an inventor, scientist, and engineer. In February 1876 Bell received a patent for the telephone. As soon as a month later he succeeded in sending a message. The telephone was now a working reality. He endured many legal challenges to his patent. Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his claims.         

Interesting fact: "To honor the inventor's contributions to acoustical science, the standard unit for the intensity of sound waves was named the 'bel' in the 1920s. The decibel, one-tenth of a bel, is the most commonly used metric for measuring the magnitude of noise."

Early models of telephones. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
Telephone switchboard in the early 1900s. Photo by Diana Mohrsen

Working with the Hearing Impaired

Much information at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site related to Bell's work in the field of deaf education. Both his father and grandfather were speech therapists. Alongside these men, he joined the family business, becoming a voice teacher. Eventually he became professor of vocal physiology at Boston University. This work led to Bell's interest in acoustics and later to his experiments sending sound waves over wires. In this case his interests resulted, eventually, in the invention of the telephone.          

Bell's Work with Hearing-Impaired was close to his Heart

Bell's mother had a childhood illness that left her mostly deaf. While he was at Boston University, he met his future wife. In this case Mabel Hubbard had completely lost her hearing from scarlet fever. Consequently both his wife and his mother were hearing-impaired. His father had developed a written system of symbols which could help the deaf to pronounce sounds. This system was called Visible Speech. 

Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan

In 1887 Helen Keller's father sought help for his 6-year-old daughter. Circumstances (a childhood illness) had left her blind and mute from the age of 19 months. Because of Bell's recommendations, they met Anne Sullivan who would go on to teach Helen to write, speak, and read Braille. She dedicated her autobiography to Alexander Graham Bell.

"Recognition of my work for and interest in the deaf has always been more pleasing to me than even recognition of my work with the telephone."  Alexander Graham Bell

Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan visit Bell. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
Typewriter for Visible Speech. Photo by Diana Mohrsen

Experiments with Speed and Flight

Alexander Graham Bell spent time researching and experimenting with kites, planes and high speed boats. Moreover he began experimenting with hydrofoils as early as1906. Notably, here in Baddeck, in 1919 the HD-4 hydrofoil had reached speeds of over 112 km/h. This was a world marine speed record. The original hull is on display at the museum.                                   

The Silver Dart

Bell invented and worked with Tetrahedral Kites. Above all he wanted to create something that would support a man and an engine. Eventually the Silver Dart was designed and built by the Aerial Experiment Association under Alexander Graham Bell. J.A.D. McCurdy was the principal designer and pilot. The aircraft was pulled by horse-drawn sleigh onto the ice of Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia. In the background over 100 of Bell's neighbours watched as the Silver Dart flew over .8 km. The year was 1909. Until now there had never been a controlled heavier-than-air craft flown in the British Empire. It was a first! The pilot was J.A.D. McCurdy.

HD-4 hydrofoil. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
The Silver Dart flew in 1909. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
The year 1906 in Bell's life. Photo by Diana Mohrsen
Replica of the Silver Dart. Photo by Diana Mohrsen

Baddeck Nova Scotia - Important to the History of Canada

When visiting this museum, it becomes clear how much of today's communication and technology is based, at least in part, on the work of Alexander Graham Bell. In addition, he was also central in helping the deaf and hearing-impaired communicate. For these reasons Baddeck should be a stop on your next visit to Nova Scotia. 

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Baddeck Nova Scotia Canada

Canada Parks

  • British Columbia

Location (Map)

559 Chebucto St, Baddeck, NS B0E 1B0, Canada
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Comments 22

EH Canada Marketing Group on Friday, 21 April 2023 19:41

Great story into the history of Bell in Canada. I bet many people have no idea of what an influencer he was. Get it. Influencer. cool)

Great story into the history of Bell in Canada. I bet many people have no idea of what an influencer he was. Get it. Influencer. :(cool)
Diana Mohrsen on Saturday, 22 April 2023 03:17

Laughing...yes, he was an influencer. I've always been intrigued by the story of Helen Keller. And to think if her father hadn't met Bell, we might never have heard of her. And if Bell hadn't been known for his inventions, Helen Keller's father wouldn't have heard of Bell. Etc. Amazing how one person had such a positive impact on the world.

Laughing...yes, he was an influencer. I've always been intrigued by the story of Helen Keller. And to think if her father hadn't met Bell, we might never have heard of her. And if Bell hadn't been known for his inventions, Helen Keller's father wouldn't have heard of Bell. Etc. Amazing how one person had such a positive impact on the world.
Cary Horning on Friday, 21 April 2023 19:45

Very, very interesting story Diana! If only Bell could see his creations abilities today. Incredible invention.

Very, very interesting story Diana! If only Bell could see his creations abilities today. Incredible invention.
Diana Mohrsen on Saturday, 22 April 2023 03:26

Thanks, Cary. We simply can't imagine our lives without telephones any more. He had more inventions (and ideas which paved the road for others to develop technology) that I didn't include here. Quite a remarkable man.

Thanks, Cary. We simply can't imagine our lives without telephones any more. He had more inventions (and ideas which paved the road for others to develop technology) that I didn't include here. Quite a remarkable man.
Cora Lee Rennie on Saturday, 22 April 2023 18:46

Great article Diana! I lived in Nova Scotia for 7 years but never knew about this place! Very interesting and well written!

Great article Diana! I lived in Nova Scotia for 7 years but never knew about this place! Very interesting and well written!
Diana Mohrsen on Sunday, 23 April 2023 02:27

Thanks, Cora Lee. We were in Cape Breton just after the hurricane in 2022. We intended to visit Louisbourg but it was closed because of damage. So it was just by default that we saw this museum. So glad we did.

Thanks, Cora Lee. We were in Cape Breton just after the hurricane in 2022. We intended to visit Louisbourg but it was closed because of damage. So it was just by default that we saw this museum. So glad we did.
Diana Mohrsen on Saturday, 22 April 2023 19:14

Cary Horning What would he think of cell phones and space travel? He died in 1922. A lot has happened in one hundred years.

Cary Horning What would he think of cell phones and space travel? He died in 1922. A lot has happened in one hundred years.
Janel Coe on Saturday, 22 April 2023 20:14

Very interesting article, Diana! Thanks for sharing.

Very interesting article, Diana! Thanks for sharing.
Diana Mohrsen on Sunday, 23 April 2023 02:20

Janel Coe When I visited without the intention of blogging about it, I probably missed other things worthy of mention. It would be nice to revisit it now.

Janel Coe When I visited without the intention of blogging about it, I probably missed other things worthy of mention. It would be nice to revisit it now.
Cora Lee Rennie on Sunday, 23 April 2023 21:40

Great article Diana! I found this very interesting as I love Canadian history and museums of all sorts! Great work!

Great article Diana! I found this very interesting as I love Canadian history and museums of all sorts! Great work!
Rene Coatta on Monday, 24 April 2023 17:31

Great article!! Thank you so much for sharing!

Great article!! Thank you so much for sharing!
Diana Mohrsen on Tuesday, 25 April 2023 16:12

Cora Lee Rennie Thanks! I don't really know as much about Canadian history as I should. Was I listening in school? Lol

Cora Lee Rennie Thanks! I don't really know as much about Canadian history as I should. Was I listening in school? Lol
Janet Guthrie on Tuesday, 25 April 2023 22:31

We went here a few years ago. We loved it and found the history so interesting and learnt so much. We also had no idea about all the others things Alexander Graham Bell invented. Also, Baddeck is such a beautiful place, isn't it.

We went here a few years ago. We loved it and found the history so interesting and learnt so much. We also had no idea about all the others things Alexander Graham Bell invented. Also, Baddeck is such a beautiful place, isn't it.
Diana Mohrsen on Thursday, 27 April 2023 03:25

Glad you enjoyed it too, Janet. He was an amazing man and I can certainly understand him choosing Baddeck as a place to live.

Glad you enjoyed it too, Janet. He was an amazing man and I can certainly understand him choosing Baddeck as a place to live.
Diana Mohrsen on Wednesday, 26 April 2023 06:41

Thanks Rene. I appreciate your comment.

Thanks Rene. I appreciate your comment.
Diana Mohrsen on Thursday, 27 April 2023 03:26

Thanks, Walter. Perhaps you will get a chance to visit there some day.

Thanks, Walter. Perhaps you will get a chance to visit there some day.
Andrea Horning on Wednesday, 26 April 2023 13:33

What a great read! Thanks for sharing

What a great read! Thanks for sharing
Diana Mohrsen on Friday, 28 April 2023 03:10

Thanks, Andrea, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks, Andrea, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Kim Kenyon on Friday, 28 April 2023 05:47

Super interesting Diana, I had no idea about Bell's work to help Helen Keller and hearing impaired.

Super interesting Diana, I had no idea about Bell's work to help Helen Keller and hearing impaired.
Diana Mohrsen on Saturday, 29 April 2023 03:05

This was new information for me too, Kim. His work has made such a difference to the hearing impaired.

This was new information for me too, Kim. His work has made such a difference to the hearing impaired.
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