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The unveiling of the Bell Memorial, October 1917

The unveiling of the Bell Memorial, October 1917, with Bell and dignitaries. The British Union Jack and the flag of the United States can be seen above the crowds—Canada had not yet created its own national flag.

From the Brantford Public Library’s website: “[Member of Parliament] W. F. Cockshutt first broached the idea of building a memorial in honour of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.

The Bell Telephone Memorial Association was incorporated in 1906. Over $65,000 was raised through donations from the federal and provincial governments and from citizens in Brant County and elsewhere. In 1908 sculptors were asked to submit plans for the memorial to the designs committee. Walter S. Allward of Toronto won the competition.

The memorial was originally supposed to be completed by 1912 but was actually not finished until five years later. The site chosen for the monument was in Bell Memorial Gardens, a small park bounded by Wellington, King, and West Streets.

The memorial was designed by Allward to symbolize the telephone’s annihilation of space. A series of steps go up to the main section where the figure “Inspiration” appears over a reclining male figure while the floating figures of “Knowledge”, “Joy”, and “Sorrow” are positioned at the other side. At each end of the memorial there are two female figures representing humanity. “To commemorate the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1874” is inscribed on the monument.

The Duke of Devonshire, the Governor General of Canada, unveiled this memorial on October 24, 1917 (Brantford Expositor, October 24, 1917, p. 1). Alexander Graham Bell made a speech and presented the Governor General with a commemorative silver telephone”



In 1870, at the age of 23, Alexander Graham Bell and his family moved to Canada from his birthplace of Scotland. After a brief stay with a family friend in Paris, Ontario, the family bought a farm at Tutelo Heights (now called Tutella Heights) near Brantford, Ontario.

That scene of jubilation was likely based on fact.  In real life the Six Nations Mohawk Reserve near Bell’s home in Brantford awarded him the title of Honorary Chief, about 1870, for his work in translating the unwritten Mohawk language into Visible Speech symbols.  Bell was thrilled at his recognition by the Six Nations Reserve and throughout his life would launch into a Mohawk war dance when he was excited.

Of course, he’s also famously known for inventing the telephone. He is known to have said that the telephone was conceived in Brantford, Ontario but born in Boston.  But there’s so much more to Bell than just the telephone. He owns many more patents, for instance.