Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doors Open Highlights 2: Banting Bliss

My second stop on Doors Open was Banting House National Historic Site. Now the embarassing thing is, I've lived in London 26 years and never been there. (Probably for the same reason New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty or Parisians up the Eiffel Tower - but I digress.)

I found out Sunday morning what a wonderful little museum this is. It commemorates one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the 20th century, when Frederick Banting came up with the idea that led to the discovery of insulin. His upstairs bedroom is filled with emotional tributes left by visitors, many of whom wouldn't be alive without his research. Down the hall there's a room full of his artwork. Turns out he could also paint and in the style of the Group of Seven - maybe it should have been the Group of Eight! Truly a great site dedicated to one of our all-time greatest Canadians.


  1. What is not often recalled is that Great War veteran F.G. Banting re-enlisted re the Second World War, and became an official Canadian War Dead, aeroplane a crash in then-British Colony Newfoundland. (Bur. Toronto Mt.Pleasant.) Oddly the Museum doesn't make much of this - not sure how many Nobel Prize winners died in their country's uniform...Major Sir Frederick Banting has a commemorative file on Vets Affairs decade-old,underpublicized, interactive Canadian VIRTUAL WAR MEMORIAL "identities conservation" project. (Ignore the poor purple graphic, suggesting it just covers WWI officers with MC. It goes back past the CWGC database of Canadians to the Boer War fallen, and continues adding names today. Luckily the City in Sesquicentenary year posted the WW2 Remembrance Books online, so those entries can be copied to their VWM files, Banting not there as not an official Londoner.

  2. Not only is this city relucant to preserve its architectural patrimony but even organizations such as Banting House, ostensibly whose purpose is to protect the cultural patrimony: (the full historical record, beyond just the building, and abstract memory of Dr. Banting), has been reluctant to extend its reach beyond a few select artifacts and has famously declined to bid on many paintings by Banting that have come up for auction over the years.