Alexander Graham Bell – Speech Script

Q: What do the life and experiences of your chosen person reveal about what it means to be Canadian?

This biography’s incorporation of quotes and journal entries add extraordinary detail and emotion to Bell’s story. Charlotte Gray’s Reluctant Genius; The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell explores the struggles and successes of one of the world’s greatest inventors; it’s a truly “outstanding biography that has all the insight, colour, drama, and interest of good entertaining fiction” (The Globe and Mail). From his challenges with health to his passion for inventing, Alexander (Alec) Graham Bell’s life reveals that being Canadian means to not be bound by others and grow as individuals.

As some of you may know, Bell is the inventor of the telephone. However, he was once one of many young scientists racing to develop the first multiple telegram, which was the next step of that technology. And with his “sketchy understanding of the nature of electricity”, Bell didn’t seem to be far ahead, but he persisted, looking up to Morse who “conquered his electrical difficulties although he was only a painter” (29, 81). Alec didn’t have the knowledge or money, but his curiosity and interest in sound pushed him to continue experimenting late into the night. Although his investors wanted him to focus on the multiple telegram, uninterested in a ‘speaking telegram’, Alec continued to work on his passion. Soon, with time, effort, and money, he developed the telephone, which eventually overtook the telegram and made everyone a lot of money. If Bell was bound to his investor’s wishes, he would not have been able to apply his knowledge effectively to produce the telephone.

Alec was also a teacher of the deaf. His father, Melville Bell, pushed his son to continue his work with Visible Speech, a system of symbols intended to help articulate sound. When Melville Bell was invited to Boston to introduce Visible Speech to deaf trainers, he declined and sent his son. Alec’s introduction of Visible Speech was well received, and he decided to stay in Boston as a deaf teacher himself. One day, Gardiner Hubbard, a Boston Lawyer and Bell’s future investor, who was “dazzled by [Alec’s] success with the deaf” came to Alec to discuss private lessons for his deaf daughter, Mabel Hubbard (48). Over some time, Alec developed feelings for Mabel, and sent a letter to her mother seeking advice. However, both mother and father were taken aback by Alec’s feelings and thought Mabel to be far too young to make a decision – being 11 years younger than Alec. They asked Alec not to talk to Mabel about his feelings. However, Alec was a ticking time bomb, having bottled up his emotions for such a long time. Eventually, although he respected her parents, Alec wanted to talk to Mabel himself. He left a letter for her and felt much better having done something for his emotions. Years later, Alec and Mabel were happily married with two children. If Alec let Mabel’s parents suppress his emotions further, his health may have been affected, hindering his life and his passions.

Throughout Alec’s life, passion has driven him to act in ways that others may have disapproved or thought impossible. Because of these passionate decisions, Alec was able to invent, love, and live a fruitful life. His ambitions and successes guided him towards the next; he was always interested in the world around him. This story is told wonderfully through Charlotte Gray’s excellent biography and teaches us that being Canadian means to work towards improving oneself, without paying attention to how others want you, or think you to be.

How Psychology Undermines the Success of Sir John A. Macdonald

Loss aversion states that emotions invoked from negative experiences are twice as powerful as positive ones. Recently, plenty of people advocated for the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s image from the public sphere. Supporters of this movement argue that Macdonald’s successes as the first Prime Minister do not justify his contemptuous actions towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples. On the other hand, individuals who disagree believe that the accomplishments and role of Macdonald overpower his poor decisions. We tend to overreact to negative results, making it feel as if Macdonald was worse than he was. However, his support for the Canadian Pacific Railway and bold perspective on the voting rights of women and indigenous far outweigh his poor decisions; therefore, Sir John A. Macdonald’s name and likeness should stay under the public eye.

Before the confederation, Canada was “expected [to] come to terms with [its] economic and geographic realities and join [the] dynamic, booming, post-civil war America” (Gwyn). John A. Macdonald understood the colonies needed to unite to avoid this. The “Canadian Pacific Railway was formed to […] unite Canada” from the Pacific to the Atlantic and would support a “wide range of related and unrelated businesses” (CPR). The railway made Canada easily accessible to the public, developed new cities, sold new land, and boosted tourism and immigration all around the country. The railway was a financial success. Additionally, the railway possessed political benefits for the confederation, promising the addition of British Columbia upon its completion. During the World Wars, the benefits of the CPR continued to be felt, being used as not only “transportation, but also the production of armaments and materiel[s]” (The Canadian Encyclopedia). Even today, the CPR’s freight trains are still in use, generating billions of dollars in revenue. The negative emotions amplified by our minds do not take away from the fact that, without Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada would not exist as it is today.


Contradictorily, those supporting the removal of John A. Macdonald from the public sphere claim that he was a racist and misogynist who decimated the indigenous culture. However, the Prime Minister “[…] wanted to see Indigenous peoples assimilated into the colonial society of Canada” (Ballingall). It is easy to say that “he didn’t need to be so cruel,” but in his time, our ideas of kindness and equality were absent; in fact, he was better than most others in his time (Daschuk). Claiming he intentionally hurt the indigenous is likewise to blaming ancient doctors of intentionally harming patients with unconventional practices; the lack of knowledge was common knowledge. Additionally, John A. Macdonald held unique beliefs that were decades ahead of his time. He wanted to give women and indigenous peoples the right to vote. Macdonald “hoped [that] Canada could have the ‘honour’ of being the first; and that women had endured ‘centuries of oppression’” (Gwyn). However, other political entities did not agree. John A. Macdonald eventually “gave up and withdrew the legislation’s section concerning votes for women” and the indigenous lost their rights until “[…] 1960[,] when John Diefenbaker restored Macdonald’s initiative” (Gwyn). However, his uncommon beliefs and dedicated actions are forgotten because of the negative things we have prioritized.


Throughout his career, John A. Macdonald influenced and changed Canada in an undeniably positive way. His support and success with the Canadian Pacific Railway influenced Canadian economics and politics in a way that we can still experience to this day. Additionally, his unique perspective of the world pushed him to challenge the norms of his time and move Canada forward. The claims that he was an ill-intended, racist, and misogynist individual are over exaggerated and unknowingly takes away from the magnitude of the good he did for our country. In the end, the true scale and success of Macdonald, a founding father and Prime Minister of Canada, are undermined by how we tend to magnify negative emotions. Undoubtedly, Sir John A. Macdonald’s name and likeness should remain in the public sphere.

“Canadian Pacific Railway.” The Canadian Encyclopedia,
“Canadian Pacific Railway.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 May 2019,
“Common Menu Bar Links.” ARCHIVED – Sir John A. Macdonald – People – Canadian Confederation – Library and Archives Canada,
Gwyn, Richard. “Canada’s Father Figure.” Canada’s Father Figure – Canada’s History, Nov. 2012,
Gwyn, Richard. “Richard Gwyn: How Macdonald Almost Gave Women the Vote.” National Post, 14 Jan. 2015,
Hopper, Tristin. “Sure, John A. Macdonald Was a Racist, Colonizer and Misogynist – but so Were Most Canadians Back Then.” National Post, 24 Jan. 2015,
“Loss Aversion.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Apr. 2019,
“Our History.” Connecting Canada,
“The Debt We Owe Chinese Canadians.” The Globe and Mail, 17 Apr. 2018,

In-Depth #6 – Prepare for Takeoff

Progress Report:

Over the past four weeks, I’ve gotten much more practice making music, navigating the program has become much more natural through this time. I focused heavily on making b-sections for all my projects, as I have the most trouble with that part of the song. I have also been told, by a friend, to make my drum beats more interesting. I learned that by adding extra off-pattern hits and snares, a drum beat can become energetic or unpredictable. This was very useful, and I have been applying the knowledge to all my projects since.

Finally, here is one project that I personally enjoyed:



I do not plan on utilizing a learning center, so I will discuss what I have planned for my presentation.

First, I plan to give a brief summary of what I did over the past months to the audience – what Ableton is, what I struggled with, etc. Then I will show a time-lapse video of me making music above me. This video will also be playing the music that was made in the video. I’ve seen this same way of presenting used by many videos on YouTube. Edward used it last year for his presentation; I thought it was very effective, and it is partly why I chose to learn about music this in-Depth.


The main concept we talked about is (drum roll…) song structure!

The concept of song structure was not new to me. However, it was used to help me better understand specific pieces of information that my mentor shared.

Here is an example in conversation (older):


Mentor: For example, have a part without the drums. Make it the same, but different.

Me: Like a b-section?

Mentor: Yes, exactly. Give some structure to your song.


My mentor had given me information: make it the same, but different. Now, that’s kind of hard to understand, I asked to clarify, is it like a b-section (which I new about before)? And he mentioned giving structure to the song, at which point I knew that I needed to learn more about song structure.


My mentor and I talked about alternatives when we talked about how to go about making a song. My mentor suggested I make a light ‘draft’ of everything, working through the entire song without polishing first. However, I asked, as an alternative, if I could do it polishing one instrument at a time (melody, drum, bass). He said I if that works for you, then of course. This method worked out, maybe even a little better for me, and I am satisfied that I had the idea and tried it.

Alexander Graham Bell – Personal & Canadian Connections

“[…] all the signs of [tuberculosis] were there. His headaches had intensified, and he coughed repeatedly […] You don’t really think you are going into the backwoods, do you?” (20). “Like Alec, Carrie was blossoming in the Canadian air; her cheeks glowed with health, […]” (33)

When my parents decided to move to Canada over 10 years ago, one of the biggest factors that influenced their decision was the healthy environment Canada had. It was interesting to read that Alexander (Alec) Graham Bell’s parents also made the same decision purely due to Alec’s poor health conditions; it reminded me of how I got to Canada. Additionally, Bell feared that he would live in backcountry Canada. Before I moved here, I also thought of Canada as a kind of backcountry – this idea was quite exciting to me as a child.

This passage reveals how Canada’s fresh air and untouched environment is one of the its biggest characteristics. Both in this book and for me, Canada’s identity is closely tied to nature. Alec hasn’t done much in Canada yet; most of his story so far has taken place down south in America. Canada has only acted as a safe-haven for Alec when he gets sick from overworking in Boston. Additionally, Canada wasn’t as urbanized as the States. Going back to the present, Canada has always been behind America in the international scene and in influence. This passage shows how Canada was, and still is, perceived as less intimidating as America.


“The disagreement between father and son created a rift between them […] and as much as he loved his father, he was not going to be bullied from a distance into abandoning his plans.” (40)

Many people argue with their parents about their goals and/or focuses. Alec’s father, Alexander Melville Bell, is the creator of Visible Speech, an alphabet created with the intent to help deaf people, and has urged Alec to keep it his priority to promote and teach it. However, Alec has different ambitions and does not want to get bullied into discarding his plans. This stood out to me because it isn’t uncommon for parents to want their children to do a certain thing with their life. Because my parents are very relaxed and give me a lot of freedom, rarely pressuring me to do things their way, I thought of how fortunate I am to be in my situation.

This passage describes a will resolving to never give up on its beliefs, regardless of who opposes it. This attitude is likewise to that of Canada and America during the American Revolutionary War; America fighting for independence and Canada loyal to the crown. Both sides did not give up their beliefs and struggled, but in the end, they both succeeded. Focusing on Canadian Identity, Canada is currently trying to become more independent from the U.S. The Canadian Government aims to trade more with other countries and rely less on America as its only major partner. These actions show that Canada will not ‘be bullied around’ by U.S tariffs and how they wish to be different from the states.


“After only eight months in Canada, Alec was Boston-bound. […] New England was the cradle of American Industry, and Boston was its capital. Inventors, electricians, engineers, machinists, educators, and skilled artisans congregated there.” (33-34)

Alec travels to Boston because that is where the resources he needs to work are. It’s not in Canada. Why? Well because Canada just didn’t have the industry there. I have been thinking about universities in Career Life Education, and a similar thing seems to be happening there, too. American universities have a different level of legacy, respect, and honor compared to the Canadian ones. And although this feeling may be unfounded, it’s hard to argue that the difference is not there. And this idea that the best place is in America forces some people to think they must go there to get educated – which isn’t true. I thought this passage was interesting because Alec could’ve done research in Canada, but he moves because the crowd and people he need are in Boston.

I talked about this earlier, but Canada just didn’t have the same resources, people, and opportunities the U.S did. Otherwise, why would Alec travel so far to work and not somewhere in Canada? It would’ve likely been better for his health and easier on his mother’s worrying. Canada was more focused on nation and community building, a perfect place for individuals to live peacefully. This contrasts with America, where the focus was on developing and growing the economy and progress in scientific achievement. This shows Canada’s identity and value of protecting/providing a safe, peaceful, and calm home for many people.


“When Alec told his parents that he had applied for American citizenship so he could patent his work, […] The Civil War was still fresh in most people’s memories, and Eliza fretted that Alec might be summoned for military service.” (79)

This passage really interested me because it got me thinking about how close these events occurred apart from one another. I was under the impression that historical achievements and checkpoints such as the ability to fly, the civil war, the industrial revolution, the invention of the telephone, etc. were farther apart and took place over a longer timeframe because I learned about them separately and thought them as different times. This biography does a great job representing the time and got me really thinking about how fast humans have really advanced through the past 200+ years. On another note, this passage reminded me how I had to renounce my Korean citizenship otherwise I would be called to the serve in the Korean military.

Canada abolished slavery in 1834 and so thousands of enslaved individuals made their way to Canada during the civil war, and many stayed after. This shows the beginning of Canada’s value of diversity and welcoming identity. Additionally, this passage shows how, at the time, being Canadian means not running the risk of being called to the military. Alec’s mother worries about him being called to the American army, but not the Canadian army. This piece of information alone shows how much more of a peaceful country Canada was compared to America in this time.


“Most of the self-taught inventors he had met were wild-eyed eccentrics who shouted orders at everybody and treated metal-shop workers like servants. […] He liked his soft-spoken new boss’s “punctilious courtesy to everyone” and his “clear, crisp articulation.” […] Thomas began to appreciate that Alec was very different form the other customers he had met.” (84-85)

The instant I read this passage I thought of the stereotype of Canadians being polite. I found it intriguing that Thomas Watson, a metalworker and Alec’s first assistant, found it a rare occurrence to meet a nice person in that field of work. I do not think being Canadian really has played a role here. Perhaps Alec was truly a special snowflake, or perhaps it’s not Canada, but America that just attracts people driven by money and other selfish intentions which makes it normal to meet rude people.

Stereotypes aren’t factual, but they aren’t always 100% unfounded. This passage reveals why Canadians gained the stereotype of being polite. Canada’s identity being related with politeness is due to the contrast with Americas un-politeness. This passage shows that Alec isn’t special for being kind; Alec is special because he is the only one that is kind. It’s the same thing with Canada.


THEME: Pushing your boundaries and exploring the unknown will often lead to discoveries that you never expected

Alexander (Alec) Graham Bell had a great mind, but who knows what would have happened if he stayed in Edinburgh, Scotland. If Alec had not gone to Canada, he may have never recovered form tuberculosis; if he had not gone to Boston, he may have never found the competitive drive to invent; if he did not share his party trick at his students house, he may have never found an investor. Each one of these events required Alec to step out of his comfort zone and explore something he isn’t used to. However, by doing these difficult things, sometimes without an obvious benefit,  coincidences occur that just may change the course of your life.