Cyrus Eaton, a famed investor and philanthropist of the early 20th century, made his money as a powerful financier in the American Midwest. However, he hailed from the humble beginnings of Pugwash, a tiny fishing community on the Northern shore of Nova Scotia.
Known for his charitable and progressive attitude, it was no surprise that he readily offered his old home in Pugwash to a burgeoning alliance of intellectuals and scientists. Their simple goal; to ease the tightening detente of the Cold War in the 1950’s and onward, and for good measure, nuclear disarmament. This group was affiliated with the famous Russell-Einstein Manifesto – a groundbreaking petition co-authored by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the eminent freethinking scientist Albert Einstein – and was actually co-founded by Bertrand Russell himself.
It was to Cyrus Eaton’s humble family abode on the North Shore that this group went to seek reconciliation and had a brainstorming session on one of the most threatening problems facing mankind. The initial meeting had various countries and ideologies present; 7 American, 3 Soviet, 3 Japanese, 3 British, 2 Canadian, an Australian, an Austrian, a Chinese, a French, and finally a Polish scientist. Amongst the scientists were also Eaton himself, and a small smattering of other power holders. After the small session in Nova Scotia, an organization was founded called “The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.”
The aforementioned organization, in present day, has this impressive list of accomplishments: the Nobel Peace Prize (1995), as well as claims of influence on the Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963), the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), the Biological Weapons Convention (1972), and the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993). It’s hard to believe that ideas spread in a tiny house in a small town could have such international relevance!
*The Cyrus Eaton House, known as “Thinker’s Lodge,” has been preserved and still sits in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. There is a small museum and conference space inside.