24 October

Alexander Graham Bell (center0 with two friends

Bell Memorial Unveiled

The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, did some of his most important experimental work at Brantford, Ontario. His profession was teaching deaf people to lip-read, and curing impediments of speech. He also liked to play the piano.

One day he was visiting the home of Mabel Hubbard in Boston. He was playing the piano and suddenly said to her father, "Mr. Hubbard, sir, do you know that if I depress the forte pedal and sing "do" into the piano, the proper note will answer me, like this?" He pressed the pedal and sang "do"; the piano responded like an echo. Then he went on to explain that if two pianos in two different places were connected by a wire, and a note was struck on one, the same note would respond in the other! It was the beginning of what was known as the "multiple telegraph" from which Bell developed the telephone. Mr. Hubbard became one of his backers, and Bell married his daughter.

American publications often do not mention Bell's work in Canada on the development of the telephone. When the Bell Memorial was unveiled in Brantford, Ontario, on October 24, 1917, Alexander Graham Bell said that the telephone had been conceived in Brantford in 1874 and born in Boston in 1876. Brantford could justly claim the invention of the telephone and the first transmission of the human voice over real live wires.

In 1876, using the wires of the Dominion Telegraph Company, Bell installed a telephone transmitter in Paris and a receiver in Brantford, eight miles away. This was the first telephone call in history. Transmission went one way only but voices came through so clearly that Bell knew that his father was one of the speakers although he had not expected him to be there. The transmitter was in Paris, the receiver in Brantford, and the electric battery that enabled the sound to travel through wires was in Toronto, 68 miles away!

Alexander Graham Bell had wire strung all around Brantford, using stove pipes for poles. He was known as "Crazy Bell", and no inventor was more persecuted. After he invented the telephone a Boston newspaper insisted that he should be arrested for leading people to believe that it was possible to talk through a wire. Altogether, he had to face 600 lawsuits from others who claimed that they had invented the telephone. One of the claimants was a man called Reis. When his "telephone" was demonstrated in court, it failed to transmit speech. His lawyer explained, "It can speak, but it won't!" The patent for the telephone turned Out to be the most valuable in the history of the world.


24 October

-1705    An Act of Parliament provided for uniform circulation of card money (see April 18).

-1852    The Toronto Stock Exchange was opened.

-1903    The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway received a charter to build a line between Quebec and Winnipeg.

-1945    Canada officially joined the U.N.