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Museum hosts exhibit on reclusive inventor Wendell Beckwith

The exhibit complements a documentary film about the late inventor and philosopher
Wendell Beckwith
The late Wendell Beckwith lived mostly alone in a remote cabin north of Armstrong, Ontario from 1961 to 1980 (submitted photo)

THUNDER BAY — Wendell Beckwith spent nearly two decades in an isolated cabin deep in the Northwestern Ontario wilderness.

The archives of the Thunder Bay Museum contain the records of much of his work.

This week, it will open a long-awaited exhibit called The Legend of Wendell Beckwith.

The museum has described the reclusive American as an inventor, master woodworker, and free-thinking scientist.

He's also been called a mathematician and philosopher.

In 2020 the museum released a documentary about Beckwith, made by filmmaker Jim Hyder.

The exhibit, which goes on display Wednesday until January 2023, was created as a companion to the documentary film In Search of Wendell Beckwith.

He lived on an island on Whitewater Lake until his death in his cabin at the age of 65, in 1980.

Thunder Bay Museum curator/archivist Michael deJong says Beckwith's photographs, drawings and effects "will help bring this fascinating story into greater focus."

In addition to displaying a variety of his inventions and instruments, it includes numerous photographs that document his life and work on Best Island, design drawings of the elaborate cabins he built, and scientific illustrations which the museum says provide a window into his theories of the universe.

The exhibit also highlights the people he interacted with, from his supporter Harry Wirth – a wealthy San Francisco architect – to the First Nations people around Whitewater Lake who befriended and supported him.

Admission to the museum is $3.00 for adults and $1.50 for children.

It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm.


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