BRANTFORD – On July 26th, 1874, Alexander Graham Bell discovered the basic principle of what is arguably one of the most influential devices in modern history, at the Bell Homestead in Brantford — the Bell family’s first Canadian residence.
Two years later, the world’s first successful long distance telephone call was transmitted between Brantford and Paris, Ontario. Since that time, the City of Brantford has taken great pride in the inventor’s own reference to Brantford as “The Telephone City.”
In 1908, under the leadership of Brant M.P., W.F. Cockshutt, the Bell Telephone Memorial Association commissioned a bronze and granite sculpture to celebrate the invention of the telephone in Brantford. Known as the Bell Memorial, the final design was awarded by international competition to prolific Canadian sculptor, Walter S. Allward. An outstanding sculptor of many of Canada’s finest monuments, Allward is best known for his masterpiece, the Canadian Vimy Memorial in France. The Bell Memorial was a precursor to the Vimy Memorial and is seen as the finest example of Allward’s early work. Unveiled on October 24, 1917 by the Governor General of Canada, and in the presence of the inventor himself, the Bell Memorial depicts Bell’s discovery of the power to transmit sound through space.
As part of the “Brantford Celebrates 150” campaign, on October 24th, 2017, the descendants of Alexander Graham Bell and representatives of Bell Canada joined Mayor Chris Friel, Brantford, Councillor Robert Johnson, Six Nations of the Grand River, Chief R. Stacey LaForme, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and Mayor Ron Eddy, County of Brant, for the rededication ceremony of the newly restored Bell Memorial, celebrating the monument’s 100th anniversary.
Mirroring the 1917 dedication, the public event began at 11:00 a.m. at the Bell Memorial at 41 West Street, and featured the signing of a rededication certificate and plaque unveiling. Highlighting the festivities were selections performed from To Catch a Sunbeam, a musical about the life of Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the telephone, and an interpretive dance entitled, The Art of Communication, choreographed by Alexander Graham Bell’s great-granddaughter, Elsie Myers Martin, and performed by members of Brantford’s Academy of Dance.
The ceremony was followed by the launch of The Art of Communication: The Unveiling of the Bell Memorial Revisited, a commemorative book featuring the original transcript of the monument’s 1917 dedication, at Grace Anglican Church, directly across from the monument.
Funding support for the Bell Memorial 100th Anniversary Celebration has been generously provided by The Alexander and Mabel Bell Legacy Foundation and Bell Canada.