Douglas McCurdy and the Silver Dart (1909)

Douglas McCurdy in the Silver Dart 1st Canadian To Fly Baddeck, Nova Scotia January 9, 1909

Douglas McCurdy in the Silver Dart
1st Canadian To Fly
Baddeck, Nova Scotia
January 9, 1909


Coincidental – or maybe not so accidental, if you believe in the laws governing serendipity and the butterfly effect – I received a couple of e-mails from yesterday from friend Darrell Pittman – and they came in sort of time-sandwiched around the deluge of puns I also received from friend Mike McCroskey on the same 24-hour ago Saturday afternoon. Since Darrell and Mike may not remember each other, even though they probably played in one Houston Babies game together a few years ago, I never assumed that these two strangers on a friendship train conspired in any way to coordinate the three e-mail sends that seemed to fit together like a sandwich yesterday – at least, in my mind.

Darrell’s two e-mails were about two 19th century McCurdys that he discovered in a biography of Alexander Graham Bell that he is currently reading:

  1. Arthur McCurdy. In 1885, Arthur McCurdy lived in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, where he served as editor of the local newspaper, the Cape Breton Island Reporter. One day, Arthur was talking to his brother, Lucien McCurdy, at the family store when the newfangled expensive telephone he was using started giving him problems. A stranger noted Arthur’s distress through the newspaper office window and came in to ask, “Are you having trouble hearing your caller?” Arthur affirmed that he was – and he gladly welcomed the stranger’s offer of help. The good neighbor very quickly took the receiver apart and put it back together after making some unspecified adjustments. Arthur was elated. The phone now worked. “To whom do I owe my thanks?” Arthur must have asked. – “My name is Alexander Graham Bell,” the man answered. – Yes. The inventor of the telephone just happened to be there when McCurdy needed him. – To make a long story short, the two hit it off well. McCurdy went to work for Bell and spent the rest of his life looking after the best interests of his good friend and employer,  Alexander Graham Bell. – I know of no blood connection between my McCurdy family and those of Arthur’s lineage, but it is interesting to note that my grandfather, William O. McCurdy, was the owner, publisher, and editor of The Beeville Bee in South Texas during the same time period and forward (1886-1913). As for the connection of this anecdote to St. Michael’s Pun Master Humor pile, we only have this single Q&A offering: Question: Why wouldn’t my Grandfather McCurdy, a total stranger, also have called Alexander Graham Bell for help with his phone too – once he finally got one? Answer: Does the name “Quasimodo” ring a Bell?
  2. Douglas McCurdy. Douglas McCurdy was the son of Arthur McCurdy, and he was swept up in the development of mechanically powered manned air flight from its earliest days. On January 9, 1909, Arthur McCurdy became the first Canadian to achieve manned flight in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. He flew the Silver Dart, the first aeroplane to use a water-cooled engine too. He cranked up and took off  into the wind down a nearby frozen lake as the whole town joyfully gathered in trotting pursuit of the craft as the Silver Dart soared to a height of 30 feet at a speed of 40 MPH for a distance of one mile. – Way to go, Douglas McCurdy! And it may never have happened at all, had your father not needed help 24 years earlier with his telephone and then found it in the sudden presence of Alexander Graham Bell himself. It was Bell’s money and influence that made the research and development of the Silver Dart that lifted you later into aviation history. – It’s nice to know that you were the first to light up Canada with all “The Wright Stuff.” –

Nuf sed. Have a nice Sunday, everybody. And stay warm.


 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle





2 Responses to “Douglas McCurdy and the Silver Dart (1909)”

  1. strider49 Says:

    Coincidences keep cascading – e.g., you happen to have a friend in Nova Scotia who can tell you about J,A, Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (catch a flight on Air St. Pierre).

  2. neal brown Says:

    Did you get the book I sent you??

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