I knew who Alexander Graham Bell was – most people know that he invented the telephone – but I had very little knowledge of his work as a prolific scientist, innovator, and engineer, and even more important to him, teacher of the deaf. Now that I have spent some time at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, I wish I would have had the chance to meet this amazing, driven, and compassionate man.
The site is located in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, just at the edge of town. It is unique, almost church-like, building (surprisingly larger on the inside than it looks from the outside) on a rolling sloping hillside that meets up with the Bras d’Or Lake where Bell tested out several of his later larger inventions.
The exhibits chronicle Bell’s life and work, covering his work with the deaf (both his mother and wife had lost their hearing), his invention of the telephone, and his innovations and engineering discoveries with airplanes and hydrofoils. There are a couple of short movies to sit and watch and many, many models, replicas, and actual artifacts to look at, but the majority of the experience is wandering the halls, reading and learning about this fascinating man and his work. The curators of this historic resource used enlarged images from Bell’s own notebooks to decorate the walls, I especially enjoyed looking at the giant versions of his hand-drawn doodles.
So impressive and lasting are his achievements that Scotland, the United States, and Canada are all eager to call Alexander Graham Bell one of their own. But because of his great love for the small village of Baddeck, Nova Scotia; this location is most appropriate for the national site recognizing his lifetime of accomplishment.
The building and grounds have seen better days, they were established over 30 years ago and some parts are showing their age. Don’t forget to wander around the back of the building and walk out on to the roof; there’s an interesting metal (maybe aluminum) sculpture of the Silver Dart, and a great view of the Bras d’Or Lighthouse. Since much of the tourism activity in this town occurs during the summer, the site is open regular hours for half of the year (April through October), and by appointment only the other half of the year.