AG Bell Museum, Sydney, Nova Scotia

After spending a morning in the town of Sydney, Nova Scotia we went on a tour to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck.

Inked Cape Breton Island LI
















































A map of Cape Breton Island. Sydney is shown by the yellow dot at the top and Baddeck by the green dot

Sydney is on a fjord on Cape Breton Island, one of the islands which make up Nova Scotia. After inventing the telephone Bell travelled around the NE are of the US and Canada and settled on Cape Breton in the town of Baddeck. While there he spent many hours working on more inventions including boats and small aeroplanes. He was a true inventor and didn’t give up when things went wrong. Interestingly, although he invented the telephone, he would not have one in his office so as not to be disturbed.

We left Sydney by coach and travelled inland along the winding and climbing road beside the Canso Canal which is a long inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. We were fortunate to have an excellent gentleman guide who arranged for the coach to stop several times for us to get photos and to admire the gorgeous scenery. We crossed over the Seal Island Bridge, over Bras d’Or Lake, so called because before its construction in the 1960s seals used to gather at this point but moved to an island nearer the ocean once it was completed. The Lake is navigable and small cruise ships are able to travel quite far upstream. The bridge was built for man's convenience but certainly inconvenienced the seals. We could not stop here for photos but got some from higher up the mountain on our return journey.

Canso Canal bridge 2Seal Island Bridge across the Lake Bras d'Or

We stopped on the other side of the mountain at St Anne’s Look Off and photographed the island on the far side where one can follow the Cabot Trail. It is named after John Cabot who arrived in N America in 1497 although it is unclear as to whether he landed here or in New Foundland. The Trail is 300kms long and the Celtic influence in the area is very strong all the way. From the Look Off we could see the small village of St Anne’s and the Causeway which has been built to link the 2 islands. Due to the tides the Causeway is not always open so one has to confirm this before leaving Sydney and plan your journey. It was closed on the day we drove past the access point to it.

Canso Causeway across the bayCauseway to the Cabot Trail

View of Canso CanalView across the Lake

We continued on our 80km journey to Baddeck where our guide pointed out to us where Bell had a home on top of a mountain overlooking the Lake. He built a mansion there for his family and he and his wife are buried there. The land which he purchased was extensive and has marvellous lake front access. The family still owns the land and some of them have built their own homes on the property. It was only recently opened to the public for a limited time each year and the family only use the mansion for special occasion dinners. A manager remains on the property to maintain it and prepare it when required.

LighthouseLighthouse on the Bras d'Or Lake in Baddeck

We arrived at the Museum which is excellent. It was built in 1954 after his daughters donated his inventions and other equipment to the nation of Canada on condition that if a museum was built it had to be in Baddeck. It is very well laid out and easy to follow with very interesting write-ups on Bell and his wife and family. It was interesting to learn that Bell’s father took a deep interest in those who were hard of hearing and this interest was passed on to his son. Bell’s wife was also deaf and she worked closely with him in the work on the telephone and a phonetic language to assist the deaf.

AG Bell Museum entranceEntrance to the AG Bell Museum

Besides the telephone, Bell proved to be an prolific inventor in a wide variety of things. Best known of these were a hydrofoil boat which he tested on the lake in front of his home, a dehusker, a metal detector and aerial machines. On our return journey our guide told us a bit of the history of Sydney and its mines for coal and steel. These mines closed down many years ago but by then many members of the community had inhaled the coal dust and other fumes. This has resulted in this town having the highest incidence of cancer in North America and now also has some of the best oncologists in the world.

AG Bell Museum airplaneThe airplane Bell and friends developed

AG Bell Museum sea planeBell's hydrofoil

A really good tour ended late afternoon but in time for us to reboard for the ship’s departure for Halifax, further South and on the East Coast of Nova Scotia.

AG Bell Museum with MemorialThe Meorial to AG Bell

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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