Located on a peninsula jutting into Cape Breton Island's scenic Bras d'Or Lake, Beinn Breagh forms the southern shore of Baddeck Bay and is located approximately 3 kilometres across the lake waters from the village of Baddeck.
The area was known to the Mi'kmaq as "Megwatpatek", roughly translated to "Red Head" and referencing the reddish sandstone rocks at the tip of the peninsula. The name "Beinn Breagh" is thought to have been given by either local Scottish immigrants or by inventor Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, who established his estate on Red Head in the 1880s.
Wealthy from his successful invention and marketing of the telephone, inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel undertook a sailing vacation (see cruising) in 1885 along the coast of eastern North America with their destination being Newfoundland. Along the way, they discovered Cape Breton's Bras d'Or Lake and were enthralled by their surroundings.
Its landscape, climate, and strong Scottish culture were reminiscent of his birthplace in Scotland. Bell purchased a large tract of land at the tip of Red Head, and is frequently credited with giving it the name "Beinn Bhreagh". He built a large estate on the property, intending it to be used as a summer home (he had other seasonal estates in Bethesda, Maryland and Coconut Grove, Florida), however his love for Cape Breton Island grew to the point where it became a year-round home during the latter part of his life.
Bell constructed laboratories and workshops on his property and conducted experiments into hydrofoil and aerospace technology, resulting in the HD-4 hydrofoil time trials on Baddeck Bay ca. 1920 (the fastest water speed record at the time) and the first recorded flight in the British Commonwealth of a piloted, powered, heavier-than-air craft (the AEA Silver Dart) in 1909.
Bell and his wife are buried atop Beinn Breagh Mountain, overlooking Bras d'Or Lake and his beloved estate which remains in the hands of his descendants. The Bell estate is visible from the northern shore of Baddeck Bay at the museum on the grounds of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.
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