Baddeck, Nova Scotia
Mr. Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1847.
He always described himself as a teacher of the deaf and had a singular interest in sound. By 1876 he had made a pile of money with the invention of the telephone and with his improved gramophone (which overcame the shortcomings of Edison’s tinfoil record player).
He was most proud of a device he invented that transmitted sound using sunbeams. Unfortunately, cloudy days and limited range made it commercially nonviable.
He built a castle here in Baddeck and spent the latter part of his life building huge kites and experimenting with powered flight. He collaborated with Glen Curtis and got one off the ground on the frozen Bras D’Oor lake in 1909. It was the first heavier than air flight in the British Empire.
I was astounded by his last invention. It was right out of Jules Verne. It was a hydrofoil powered by two huge water-cooled V-16 engines spinning four bladed aircraft props. They had a full scale reproduction in the museum as well as films showing the original tearing down the lake, bellowing fire and smoke.
What a sleek, strange machine. His hydrofoil hit 76 MPH. At the time, it was by far the fastest boat in the world. He was a far greater genius than that for which I had given him credit.