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Bell Homestead National Historic Site of Canada

94 Tutela Heights Road, Brantford, Ontario, N3T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/06/01

Corner view of Bell Homestead, showing the original Bell-era conservatory, reconstructed in the 1970s, 1997.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, James De Jonge, 1997.
Corner view
Rear view of Bell Homestead, showing its stucco finish, 1997.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, James De Jonge, 1997.
Rear view
General view of Bell Homestead National Historic Site of Canada, showing the house with its vernacular British classical design, 1995.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, James De Jonge, 1995.
General view

Other Name(s)

Bell Homestead National Historic Site of Canada
Bell Homestead Museum
Musée de la maison familiale rurale de Bell

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1858/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/06/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Bell Homestead National Historic Site of Canada is a suburban property featuring a typical mid-19th-century rural Ontario house influenced by the Picturesque aesthetic. One-and-a-half-storeys in height with a low-pitched gable roof, it features a central door, gable end chimneys, an attractive wooden front porch, a conservatory, and picturesque landscaping. Also on the lot are a wooden carriage house and a grouping of modest structures associated with the operation of the site as a museum. Official recognition refers to the homestead at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Bell Homestead was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1934 because:
- it is associated with consequential events in Alexander Graham Bell's life, specifically the conception of and early long-distance trials of the telephone;
- it illuminates the formative influence of Bell's parents, who stimulated his interest in working with the deaf - an interest that was fundamental to the development of the telephone;
- it has also attained a symbolic importance as the Canadian site most widely associated with the telephone.

The heritage value of the site resides in its historical associations as illustrated by the setting and the house in its surviving original design and materials. Here at his parents' home in July 1874, Alexander Graham Bell conceived the fundamental idea of the telephone and, in August 1876, carried out the first successful long-distance trials. The Bell Homestead evokes the formative influence of Bell's father, an authority on the acoustics of speech, and of his mother who was deaf. They stimulated their son's lifelong interest in teaching the deaf to speak, a passion that proved crucial to the discovery of the telephone. Since the early 20th century, the Bell Homestead has served as a symbol of this inventor's remarkable achievement. In 1935, because of erosion of the bluff to the rear, the house and carriage house were moved forward on the lot and then placed on a new foundation, closer to the main road. Despite the loss of property over the years, including most outbuildings and an orchard, the site maintains its semi-rural setting and quiet environment. The original Bell-era conservatory was reconstructed in the 1970s, as were the house verandah and chimneys.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1934, June 1996.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements which contribute to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location on the outskirts of Brantford, Ontario;
- its setting on a large rural lot overlooking the Grand River;
- those elements which speak to its association with the Bell family, including the house with its vernacular British classical design, its centre-hall plan with a kitchen and an east wing, its stucco finish, its surviving original exterior and interior forms and materials, the carriage house with its original form and surviving materials, and the surviving suburban lot typical of 19th-century domestic landscapes;
- those elements which contribute to its symbolic importance, including: the relatively intact condition of the house and of the quiet, contemplative atmosphere of the property which has been maintained since the time of the Bell family occupation.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1996/06/01

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1874/01/01 to 1876/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Science

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Residence
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

1772

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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