Previous travels had led me to the interesting museum home of Sir Frederick Banting, but it was only recently that, at last, I paid a visit the Bell Homestead in Brantford. The County of Brant and the City of Brantford, just an hour's drive from Toronto or the Niagara region, offers many delights for a fall getaway: pretty rural scenery and the fine Grand River with many hiking trails, farmers' markets, entertainment at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, country B&Bs and a new boutique property in town, the oldest surviving church in Ontario, the gracious Glenhyrst Art Gallery set in lovely gardens. There's a big casino if that's your thing and, of course, an important piece of Canadian history at the Bell Homestead.
Everyone knows what Bell is famous for, although he was an inventor of many other items. However, it was in his parents' Brantford home, on the outskirts of town, that he conceived the idea for the telephone, and it was from this house, in August 1876, that the first successful long-distance telephone trials were carried out.
Inscription Reads: Dominion Telegraph Company office in Robert White's Boot and Shoe Store, Paris, Ontario where
Alexander Graham Bell received the world's first (one way) long distance telephone call, from Brantford, August 10, 1876.
The homestead celebrates the influence of Bell's father, an authority on the acoustics of speech, and of his mother who was deaf. They stimulated their son's lifelong interest in teaching the deaf to speak, a passion that proved crucial to the discovery of the telephone. And it was there, it is claimed, that Bell celebrated the success of his first telephone call with a Mohawk war dance. He was an honorary member of the Mohawk tribe and had been taught the war dance by Chief Johnson. This and many other intriguing facts are revealed in this museum home. Here I learned that Bell's wife, Mabel, never
became seasick because her inner ear did not function properly; that Bell loved to swim during thunderstorms so he could
watch the lightening; that he had a good sense of humour and loved to tease guests with a broken picture behind the front door. And, perhaps the most interesting fact of all, Bell did not like the way telephone calls interrupted his work and refused to have one in his office!
The Bell Homestead is a National Historic Site that was officially opened by the Queen in 1997. It has a quaint café for lunch and a tiny gift store. And Canada's first telephone business office, re-located from downtown Brantford, now
stands adjacent to the Bell Homestead and is also part of the museum complex.
The Bell Homestead is well worth a visit to celebrate an important part of our history and, as you explore this pretty region of Ontario, keep in mind Alexander Graham Bell's own words: "Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before. Of course, it will be a little thing, but do not ignore it. Follow it up, explore all around it; one discovery will lead to another, and before you know it you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought."
Ann Wallace is editor of The Travel Society Magazine www.thetravelsociety.com.
If you go
The Bell Homestead National Historic Site:
www.bellhomestead.ca (tel: 519 756 6220).
The city is undergoing a gradual revitalization, with Harmony Square as its focal point, where concerts, theatre, art exhibitions and winter skating are presented. And bordering this Square, you will find the trendy new Bodega Inn, where suites (with kitchenettes) are decorated to reflect different regions in the world: Africa, Asia or Europe. A catering company in the Square provides the continental breakfast in the lobby of the inn and the Casino and lively Saturday Farmers' Market are just a walk or short taxi ride away.
www.thebodegainn.com (tel: 519 753 0327).
Tourism Brantford: www.visitbrantford.ca (tel: 1 800 265 6299).
The Brantford and Area Coupon Book brings many savings.
County of Brant Tourism: www.brant.ca.
The region has many B&Bs and nearby Paris, where Bell received his first phone call, is one of Ontario's prettiest towns.
What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
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