6/4/22: Lunenburg-Ingonish via Brilliant AG Bell Site!

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Although sad to be leaving our friends Ellen and Peter in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, it did mean we were beginning the next part of our adventure on our exceedingly long detour to the Florida Panhandle. Next up for us was touring Cape Breton Island and the Cabot Trail that loops through the wilds of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Linking the Nova Scotia mainland to the island of Cape Breton was the Canso Causeway that crossed the Strait of Canso. As we approached the causeway we saw a massive ship collecting something but we couldn’t tell what it was from our angle.

Crossing the strait to Port Hastings:

From the Cape Breton Visitor Center on the other side, we had a great view of the causeway and …

aha – a much better view of the ship and a large pit now we were seeing it from across the causeway! I asked at the center what was being put into the gigantic ship and was told gravel was being offloaded from the pits to be transported around the world to be used for paving roads!

Our first stop on the Cabot Trail was the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in the small community of Baddeck. 

A plaque outside the museum honored the Aerial Experiment Association (of which Bell was one of just five members) for designing and building the Silver Dart which was flown from the ice of Baddeck Bay in February of 1909. The plaque proudly stated that it was the first flight by a British subject in the British Empire.

Bell’s family moved from Scotland to Brantford, Ontario, in 1870 after both his brothers died from tuberculosis. His lifelong commitment to assisting hard-of-hearing people began with his father, Alec, a noted elocutionist and speech teacher who developed a new phonetic alphabet which he called ‘Visible Speech’ in 1864. 

With Bell knowing a little about electricity and a lot about sound, speech, and hearing, he came up with a daring idea for an electrical device that would work like a human ear and would transmit speech itself: a talking wire or a phone. The birth of the telephone occurred almost accidentally in 1875 but there was still no intelligible speech until March of 1876 when Bell said to his assistant, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you!” Watson, in another room, heard him clearly making Bell’s invention a working reality.

For Alexander Graham Bell, the phone was just the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and invention. He also created a treadle-powered music machine, man-carrying kites, and a record-setting hydrofoil boat.

After Bell received the prestigious Volta Prize in 1880 from the French government, he used the prize money to establish the Volta Laboratory in Washington, DC, to develop and market new inventions. Bell vowed to show his phone invention wasn’t a fluke. saying,” I can’t bear to hear that even my friends should think that I stumbled upon an invention and that there is no more good in me.”

I hadn’t known the degree to which Bell helped bridge the gap between deaf people and the world of sound by teaching at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes beginning in 1871. Bell first met deaf and blind Helen Keller when she was a little girl. She later gave Bell significant credit for her ability to speak and write. “I did not dream that that interview (with Bell) would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light.” When Helen Keller’s father approached Bell in 1887, it began a lifelong relationship with Bell. 

Bell and his wife, Mabel, made tiny Baddeck their second home because the lakes and hills of Cape Breton reminded him of his native Scotland. Working in Baddeck, he was away from the formality and the oppressive summer heat of Washington and could pursue his scientific and humanitarian interests. 

It was a revelation to me that Bell’s scientific interests included the field of genetics. In 1908, he started researching the subject of longevity as he was curious why some people lived longer than others. He spent eight years compiling many statistics on dates of birth, marriages, and deaths. 

He became an advocate of artificial cooling for houses as the summer heat bothered him. Bell designed these two blowers together with air conditioning experiments at his Baddeck home. 

As a result of his concern with men being stranded at sea, Bell began experimenting beginning in the late 1890s on devices to provide drinking water from human breath and ways to distill salt water into drinkable water. After his son died of breathing problems, Bell developed a breathing device that became the prototype for the iron lung machine that helped polio victims. 

Bell experimented with devices during WW I for transmitting and receiving underwater sounds. The devices, when submerged, could detect sound vibrations passing through water.

Bell also created the prototype for cell phones! Calling it a photophone, the ‘phone without wires’ caught the sun’s rays in a transmitter mirror and reflected them some 1,300 feet across the road and into the lab. However, cold and rain easily interrupted transmissions so the photophone had little practical significance at the time. Bell still considered it “the greatest invention I have ever made, greater than the telephone.”

Beginning in 1891, Bell began experiments in Baddeck and in NY to develop motor-powered heavier-than-air aircraft. By 1908, the success of the Aerial Experiment Association resulted in a series of ground-breaking designs, culminating in the Silver Dart. 

Bell wasn’t a professional invented like Thomas Edison; instead, he was an accomplished and independent amateur who experimented for the sheer joy of gaining knowledge. I learned Bell was always more interested in possibilities than in reality and he was inclined to lose interest as his inventions neared commercial application. The inexhaustibly curious Alexander Graham Bell died at his home in Baddeck in August of 1922 at the age of 75. 

The lighthouse overlooking St. Patrick’s Channel by Baddeck was a quintessential gorgeous Nova Scotia photo!

While driving northward from Baddeck up the east side of Cape Breton, we admired the views of St. Ann’s Harbour.

In tiny St. Ann’s, we walked around the Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts hoping to be introduced to the Celtic culture. The college was founded in 1938 to perpetuate Highland Scottish Gaelic culture. Unfortunately, we were there a tad too early in the summer season as the college wouldn’t be opening for two days. 

Steven and I almost laughed when we arrived with just 30 seconds to spare to catch the free cable ferry from the small community of Englishtown across St. Ann’s Bay to Jersey Cove! Lady Luck was certainly on our side that afternoon even if the shop at the college was closed. 

We continued to drive north along the Cabot Trail to Ingonish, our port of call for the next two nights.

We described the views from the lookoff as another of “as pretty as it gets!”

Clicking on any picture gives a clearer view!!!

Then, just two kilometers further, another breathtaking view:

And another stunning view as we entered Ingonish:

Ingonish Harbour and …

Ingonish River:

Ingonish, a community of 1,000 souls about 60 miles north of Baddeck, is a busy resort center at the eastern entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park.


After grabbing a bite for dinner, we still had enough energy to drive to literally the end of the road at Ingonish Point. 

We found the beach views unbelievably pretty from every angle.

Next post: Re-discovering the National Park after an absence of about 25 years.

Posted on August 16th, 2022, from the city of St. Joseph, Missouri, which is just minutes from the border with Kansas. Since leaving Chicago yesterday morning, we’ve been taking the slow route home to Denver, driving the back roads and through the small towns on Highway 36 across the Midwest. What normally is a two-day drive, we’ve stretched into a four-day one to really get a sense of small-town America.


  1. This post provided me with so many wonderful memories of my honeymoon spent in Ingonish many moons ago. Thank you for reminding me of how beautiful Ingonish and the Cabot Trail are. xo Lina xo
  2. Glad to bring back memories of your 1981 honeymoon in idyllic Ingonish, Lina! What a gorgeous spot to start life with Dan.

8 thoughts on “6/4/22: Lunenburg-Ingonish via Brilliant AG Bell Site!

  1. I hadn’t realised quite how many different scientific fields Graham Alexander Bell had expertise in and the range of what he invented. Nor did I know about his relationship with Helen Keller, so I’ve learned a lot from this post 🙂 Love those coastal views too!


    1. He was certainly a brilliant man and well ahead of his time with his vision for the cell phone. I enjoyed learning, too, about his strong connection to my native Canada as you might imagine!

      Thanks for reading and kindly commenting!


  2. I really enjoyed learning so many interesting facts about Mr. Bell’s life. Such an incredible man. This region looks beautiful, how long are you staying? Did you have to book accommodation in advance?


  3. We left Denver on May 11th and just returned two days ago after a more than 13,0000 mile trek through huge chunk of eastern North America . It was an incredible trip from beginning to end, Gilda.

    We DID book everything but that is our traveling style and the way we feel most comfortable. I’m sure in most cases it wouldn’t be necessary, however.

    My second post from now will begin the Newfoundland portion of our trek. I hope if I do my job well describing the trip, you’ll be blown away by the magnificent province!

    My sincere thanks for reading and also commenting as that extra effort really makes my day!


  4. Thanks, Phil, for your comments about what was a very enjoyable visit.

    Have tried multiple times to leave comments on your recent posts but get an error message each time. Figure that must be happening to others?

    ONLY happens with your posts unfortunately


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