Government of Canada Commemorates National Historic Significance of Mabel G. Hubbard Bell and Beinn Bhreagh Hall

News release

Baddeck’s Beinn Bhreagh Hall was a second home to Alexander Graham Bell and his influential wife Mabel

August 14, 2018                     Baddeck, Nova Scotia                         Parks Canada Agency

Canada’s first human flight may not have happened without Mabel G. Hubbard Bell, who recruited young engineers to collaborate with her husband Alexander Graham Bell and personally financed many of their experiments. An accomplished person in her own right, Mabel G. Hubbard Bell left behind an important legacy as a contributor to her husband’s scientific achievements.

The Honourable Mark Eyking, Member of Parliament for Sydney – Victoria, today commemorated the national historic significance of Mabel Hubbard Bell, along with the Bells’ summer home, Cape Breton landmark Beinn Bhreagh Hall. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Catherine McKenna.

American-born Mabel (1857-1923) lost her hearing to scarlet fever at the age of five. She defied expectations by learning to read lips and continuing to speak. Her testimony to Massachusetts’ state legislature as a child led to reforms on the way deaf people were educated and integrated into society.  

Once in Canada, she continued to support education, founding Canada’s first Montessori in Baddeck. She also launched the Parents Association of Baddeck, to help parents and teachers work together to improve schooling, which ultimately led to the founding of a national Home and School Federation.

Many of Mabel Bell’s lasting contributions to society happened during her time at Beinn Bhreagh Hall, a stunning summer home in Baddeck designed in Shingle style architecture. The estate was also an inspiration to Alexander Bell, serving as both a private home and the nerve centre for many of his innovative experiments.

The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places and events that contributed to our country’s diverse heritage. The commemoration process is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2000 designations have been made.

The Government of Canada is celebrating families with free admission for youth 17 and under, and free admission for one year for new Canadian citizens, starting in 2018 and beyond. We invite Canadians to learn more about our history – from lighthouses to battlefields, historic neighbourhoods to Indigenous contributions to Canada, there is an amazing array of places and stories to discover. 

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“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of Mabel Hubbard Bell and Beinn Bhreagh Hall. The people of Baddeck and the incredible beauty of Cape Breton made such an impression on Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel Hubbard Bell that they built a summer home here in the late 1800s. It was during her stays at Beinn Bhreagh Hall that Mabel Hubbard Bell’s own legacy grew as she made lasting contributions to education and aviation. Historic designations provide an opportunity to connect with our diverse heritage and I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the role of Mable Bell and Beinn Bhreagh Hall in Canadian history.”

The Honourable Mark Eyking,
Member of Parliament for Sydney

“Recognizing both Mabel Hubbard Bell and Beinn Bhreagh is a significant milestone for the Bell family, Canadians and the world. These commemorations will help share this important history as well as the Bell legacy with current and future generations.”

Sara Grosvenor
Bell descendant and President, Alexander and Mabel Bell Legacy Foundation

Quick facts

  • Beinn Bhreagh Hall was the Nova Scotia residence of inventor and scientist Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel G. Hubbard Bell. Built in 1892-93, this grand home is an outstanding example of the Shingle style architecture that was popular in New England. The Beinn Bhreagh estate, which translates to “beautiful mountain” in Gaelic, is where Alexander Graham Bell accomplished some of his greatest scientific research.

  • Mabel married her speech teacher, Alexander Graham Bell, and is often credited with providing guidance and support to the prolific inventor. She helped him to showcase and patent the telephone, and was instrumental in organizing and financing the Aerial Experiment Association. 

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada’s history.

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Caroline Thériault       
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Coady Slaunwhite
Communications Officer, Parks Canada Cape Breton Field Unit

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

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