In 2010, Thinkers Lodge was designated a Canadian National Historic Site in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, because it is the birthplace of the Pugwash Movement, a global initiative for nuclear disarmament. In July 1957 at the height of the Cold War, Pugwash native and US citizen Cyrus Eaton, an industrialist and philanthropist, hosted at Thinkers Lodge, 22 scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain in response to a plea from Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein.
In 1955, they, along with nine other eminent scientists had penned the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, charging nuclear scientists around the globe to come together to articulate the peril of nuclear weapons and to take responsibility to speak out and take action against nuclear proliferation. “Thirty-eight years later, after that first conference was made possible by the generosity of Cyrus Eaton and the good will of the little Nova Scotia town that welcomed the scientists, the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms." In 2003 at a public presentation, Rotblat donated his Nobel Prize medal to Thinkers Lodge.
Rotblat in his 2003 address at the 53rd Pugwash Conference said, “The Manifesto ended with a call to scientists to get together in a conference to seek ways to avert the danger. One of the first responses was the famous letter from Cyrus Eaton, offering to pay all the expenses of the proposed conference, if it were held in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. But it took two years before we actually came here. You have to recall that we were at that time at the height of the Cold War, with all its mistrust and fears, and hostile propaganda. In the United States, the malodorous McCarthy witch hunt was still in the air. Anybody ready to sit down with Soviet scientists, and talk about nuclear weapons and disarmament, was immediately branded as a fellow traveler, if not an actual member of the Communist party.
For many American scientists, participation in the conference might have spelled the end of their professional career, let alone obtaining travel funds from their universities. There were no foundations willing to provide funds for such an enterprise. It was only a fearless person like Cyrus Eaton, who broke the taboo, and made the Conference possible. Cyrus Eaton was a truly unique personality. He must have had a streak of the hard capitalist in him: he made a million at a young age, lost it, and made much more soon afterwards. But at the same time, he was quite eager to go along with the communist system in the Soviet Union, by advocating closer relations with the Soviets at a time when this was seen as an almost treasonable offence in the United States.
It was really extraordinary that, in one and the same year, he was chosen US Business Man of the Year, and awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. And with all this, he was also a scholar. He was a voracious reader, including books on philosophy. In his famous letter to Bertrand Russell, inviting us to come to Pugwash, he said: "I have read all of your fascinating books again and again." He had a great respect for scientists. This is why he set up an educational trust here, in the Eaton Lodge, for scientists to come for relaxation and to sharpen their thinking. This is why this house is also called "The Thinkers Lodge".
Rotblat’s Nobel Peace Prize medal and Eaton’s Lenin Peace Prize medal, both symbols of life-long commitments to peace, are displayed at Thinkers Lodge. The Lenin Peace Prize was awarded to Cyrus Eaton for his efforts to encourage communist and democratic countries to coexist peacefully.
Forty-six years after attending the first Pugwash Conference, Ruth Adams spoke at the 53rd Pugwash Conference held in Pugwash. She said, “Looking back…the 1957 gathering of scientists in Pugwash still stands out for the bold and forward-looking message it carried to the world. We remember most immediately, of course, the international consensus of scientists it enunciated in the substantive area of controlling nuclear weapons. But no less important was the breakthrough in the relationships and depth of communications it embodied, at that time especially among scientists, across not only international borders but social systems, political regimes, and hemispheres.”
“In 1954, on his 71st birthday, Cyrus Eaton remarked on the urgent need for new ways of thinking in this exciting but perplexing nuclear age and announced that he was dedicating his Pugwash property as a meeting place for scientists, authors, scholars, statesmen, labor leaders and businessmen. His plan, he said, was to give thinking men from all over the world an opportunity to ‘relax together, exchange views, sharpen their own thinking and design formulas for us to live by in this brand-new world.’” At the conclusion of the first session in 1955, Sir Julian Huxley (biologist and first director of UNESCO) and the “Thinkers” presented Mr. Eaton with a scroll that proclaimed, “It was your inspiration to bring together in fruitful communion men and women of the most diverse attainment, men of action and men of thought, writers, businessmen and scholars. We may well have witnessed the birth of one of those ideas which are destined to open up every-increasing possibilities of good.” Eaton’s staff assistant, Betty Royan, said, “Conference attendees participated in Pugwash Conferences as individuals, and not as official representatives of their countries’ governments. This has been an integral feature of the Pugwash plan, to enable full and frank consideration of touchy topics, free from the artificial restraints and restrictions that necessarily characterize formal diplomatic exchanges.”
In his autobiography, Bertrand Russell, co-author of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, wrote about the pivotal 1957 meeting. “Most important of all, it was held in an atmosphere of friendliness. Perhaps the unique characteristic of this and subsequent Pugwash Conferences was the fact that members consorted with each other in their spare time as well as during the scheduled meetings and grew to know each other as human beings rather than merely as scientists of this or that potentially inimical belief or nation. This most important characteristic was in large part made possible by the astute understanding of Cyrus Eaton of the situation and what we wished to accomplish and by his tactful hospitality.”
This internationally significant site was renovated between 2010 and 2013. Today, tourists from many parts of Canada and around the globe visit and learn about the impact these scientists, the Pugwash Conferences, and Cyrus and Anne Eaton made in global peace initiatives. Thinkers Lodge and the Lobster Factory Dining Hall continue to host conferences, workshops, meetings, and retreats on peace-making, climate change, writing challenges, the role of art in society, environmental issues, and local business initiatives. In addition, weddings, anniversaries, and the Pugwash District High School proms are held in this serene setting on the Northumberland Strait.
As Pugwash Park Commissioner, John Eaton, grandson of Cyrus Eaton, has with fellow commissioners Giovanni Brenciaglia and Colin Dodds raised funds that restored Thinkers Lodge and the Lobster Factory and established it as a national historic site. Due to their efforts, people again gather at the Lodge to breathe in its peace and put their efforts into bettering our world.