A waterbug becomes the world’s fastest boat. Sunlight transmits the sound of laughter. Staring out onto Baddeck Bay, the impossible becomes the possible. Here, the contemplative calm of the sparkling Bras d’Or Lakes became an inventor’s paradise, his inspiration. And like the grounds of Beinn Bhreagh before it, the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is a testing ground for new technology, new ways of thinking. Just as the Bells hosted visitors and locals alike, the museum too draws people from all over the world to find muse in nature, to stand in awe of both Bell the genius and Bell the ordinary man, to marvel at the accomplishments and strength of the exceptional Mabel Bell and to celebrate tangible proof that ideas great and small can plant the seeds of discovery for generations.
Entering the front doors of the site is like entering the beehive that was Bell’s mind. Fantastical ideas drift past as images and sounds of his inventions great and small appear and disappear on the windows and panels around you, pulling you into Bell’s world. Everything feels alive and electric as you walk enthralled by the marvels he and his associates created. The many experiments and displays are reminiscent of the trials Bell put his own ideas through. Learning by doing, expecting the unexpected, your inner child is inspired. This is not a typical museum. This is a dynamic place, inspiring you to experience and think in new ways, see through new eyes.
Proposed Key Strategic Directions
Key Strategy 1: Creating a dynamic space
The intent of this key strategy is to rethink, renew and reinvigorate opportunities for visitor experience at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in order to: encourage people to revisit the site, inspire new visitors to come discover Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and to engage the hearts and minds of visitors, communities and the many partners and stakeholders who are passionate about this special place.
This strategy proposes to:
- improve and update interpretation programming, and develop a renewed concept for visitor experience opportunities for the site;
- enhance and improve facilities and services by re-thinking existing use of the site, in order to broaden its appeal to a diverse range of potential visitors who may wish to visit for any number of reasons; and
- offer significant opportunities at the site for developing its potential as a special events venue by using the site’s expansive grounds and beautiful setting with sweeping views of Baddeck Bay and Beinn Bhreagh.
Key Strategy 2: The Bell legacy, seeds of discovery
The cultural resources are part of the tangible expression of the deep sense of connection people feel to the human story of Alexander Graham Bell. The resources and the experience of meeting both Bell ‘the genius’ and Bell ‘the ordinary man’ distinguishes this national historic site from any other attraction. Visitors need to have opportunities to feel, touch and experience the most compelling resources that speak to the stories of this place.
However, the cultural resources are only part of the story. The untapped potential of the Bell story is the legacy of his work. Bell’s work with the deaf, the flight of the Silver Dart and the telephone that Bell invented were all incredible achievements, but it is the legacy of these achievements that link the future and present with the past. His extraordinary vision changed our world: how we communicate with each other and how we travel.
This strategy proposes to:
- present more artefacts and replicas on-site to facilitate appreciation and enhance understanding by allowing visitors to see, touch and feel pieces of the past;
- present Bell’s ideas through experimentation by enhancing and expanding hands-on learning and experimentation at the site; and
- offer opportunities to discover, experience and appreciate the site’s resources and Bell’s legacy off-site through public outreach education.
Key Strategy 3: Family, friends, community
Although almost 600,000 visitors either stop in or pass by the Village of Baddeck throughout the year and the village markets itself as the beginning and the end of the Cabot Trail and is a key tourist destination in Nova Scotia, visitor numbers at the site continue to fall, and the site is attracting less than 15% of the regional traffic. The focus of this strategy is to continue to build on the success of the relationships fostered through the work of the Centennial Celebration of Flight and to work collaboratively with partners and stakeholders who are engaged and interested to enhance opportunities for visitor experience, marketing and promoting the site, fostering public outreach education and enhancing cultural resource management. This key strategy aims to place Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site back on the map, and back in the hearts and minds of people of Canada and beyond.
This strategy proposes to:
- partner more closely with the Baddeck Area Business and Tourism Association to formulate the creation of a new joint tourism brand, joint, revitalized marketing and activity initiatives;
- explore options to connect the site to the main area of downtown Baddeck such as exploring the option of a trolley service;
- work with area hotels to promote Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site;
- forge new partnerships and enhanced relationships with stakeholders to improve the visitor offer and reach expanded markets; and
- explore an active role in the pursuit of the pending Bras d’Or Lakes UNESCO Biosphere Reserve application given Alexander Graham Bell’s interest in the Bras d’Or Lakes, and in the environment in general.
Planning the Future