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Brantford celebrates centenary of Alexander Graham Bell

If the telephone wasn't born in Canada, it was certainly conceived here. In 1874, in Brantford, Ont., inventor Alexander Graham Bell first described the scientific principle that would convey the human voice over wires. By the Second World War, Canadians led the world in talking by telephone. Later they reached out to each other and around the globe with long distance calling, transatlantic connections and predictions for the future.

By telephone, the daughter of Alexander Graham Bell addresses a crowd in Brantford, Ont. celebrating what would have been the phone inventor's 100th birthday. He was "The Great Encourager," she says in this CBC Radio clip to the people gathered at Bell Homestead. It was there that Bell drafted the first sketches of his telephone invention in 1874. Marian Bell grew up in a flurry of invention excitement. As her father worked on countless experiments, he also encouraged Marian's own ideas. "Go ahead and try it," he would say.
• Marian "Daisy" Bell (Fairchild) was born Feb. 15, 1880 to Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel Hubbard. The couple had another daughter, Elsie, and two sons who died when they were infants.
• Alexander Graham Bell's mother and wife were both deaf.
• Marian Fairchild died in 1962.

• In 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives insisted Italian immigrant Antonio Meucci invented a telephone device before Bell.
• The House claimed Meucci ran out of money before he could patent his "teletrefono" in 1871.
• In 1880 Bell invented "the photophone" - a device which transported wireless telephone messages. It transmitted sound on a beam of light and was the basis for today's fiber optic systems.

• Bell was a prolific inventor. He created a device to help locate the bullet that assassinated U.S. President James Garfield. When one of his sons died of respiratory complications, Bell devised a "metal jacket vacuum" that was a precursor for the iron lung used by polio victims. He conducted sheep-breeding experiments in an attempt to increase the rate of twin and triplet births. Bell also worked in speech for the deaf, water distillation, hydrofoils and was involved in the famous Silver Dart flight.

• In the radio clip, Bell's daughter explains how her father once conducted an experiment at home with pillows and a cat. It was just after he'd heard a cat always lands feet-first. And the cat did in the experiment.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: March 3, 1947
Guest(s): Marian Bell
Duration: 2:25
Photo: National Archives of Canada

Last updated: February 28, 2014

Page consulted on February 28, 2014

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