Nova Scotia Archives

J.A.D. McCurdy

and the Silver Dart: Canada's 'First Aerial Navigator'


Arthur McCurdy holding his son J.A.D. McCurdy

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In 1885 Alexander Graham Bell and his family came to Cape Breton and made a visit from Sydney to Baddeck on an old side-wheeler. McCurdy described the visit in "A story for the Sun Life Assurance Company": "After disembarking from the boat, Bell walked along the wharf and stopped in front of the offices of the local newspaper, The Cape Breton Island Reporter, and was much astonished by what he saw through the plate glass window. He became interested in a man who was attempting to repair a telephone mounted on the wall opposite. This man was the editor of the newspaper. He in turn became conscious of a presence behind him and turning around saw a very large man, slightly over six feet, weighing about 250 pounds, dark, with very black hair, full whiskers, and piercing brown eyes, who had just entered the door. Upon being asked by the gentleman what he was trying to do, he explained that the instrument was a telephone which connected his office with his father's store at the top of the slight incline and that he was attempting to fix it, but had not been particularly successful. Dr. Bell walked over, and said: ‘Perhaps I can help you.' He then unscrewed the end of the earpiece, removed the diaphragm, brushed a small fly away, replaced the diaphragm, screwed on the top and said, "I think now you will find it working.' The editor rang the telephone and received an immediate reply. Much surprised, he turned to his guest and said, ‘Why, how did you happen to know about this?' Dr. Bell replied, ‘because I am the inventor of that instrument and my name is Alexander Graham Bell.' The editor was my father." [2007-058/001/#177]

Date: ca. 1893

Photographer: C.M. Bell, Washington

Reference no.: J.A.D. McCurdy Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 2007-058 vol. 003 no. 06