10 Things I Didn’t Know About Dr. Banting

In my last week at Banting House, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the things that I have learned while I was here and what this experience has meant to me! When I first arrived, I knew very little about what diabetes is and how it has affected so many people around the world. I also had no idea how remarkable, yet, ordinary Dr. Banting was as a person. So I decided to create a list of the top 10 things I never knew about Dr. Banting which might intrigue you too!


Banting posing with his classmates.
(He is standing in the center in the back row!)

  1. He was born in Alliston, Ontario in 1891. Alliston was a growing town at the time of Banting’s birth and it is located north of Toronto.
  2. Banting failed his first year in the arts program at Victoria College! Halfway through repeating first year, he petitioned to switch into Medicine. (It is a good thing he switched to medicine too!)
  3. Banting was a military surgeon in the First World War and earned the military cross for his gallant and meritorious service in the field. This medal is the second highest honour in the British Commonwealth after the Victoria Cross. Just under 3,000 men received this award out of the approximately 100,000 that were eligible.
  4. Banting married twice and had one son, William Banting, who was born in 1929.
  5. Banting received the KBE (Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire) and became Sir Frederick Banting in June 1934. He was the first Canadian to be knighted after WWI and among the last Canadians in history to receive this honour.
  6. Banting received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1923. He was the first Canadian to receive a Nobel Prize and, at 32 years old, also the youngest recipient at the time!
  7. Banting died in a plane crash in Newfoundland in 1941 near (what is now called) Banting Lake. He was 49 years old.
  8. While Banting only lived in Banting House for 10 months, it has become an international pilgrimage site for many people around the world.
  9. The Flame of Hope that stands in the center of our gardens in Sir Frederick G. Banting Square has been burning since 1989 and it was ignited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother! It will continue to burn until we have a cure for diabetes when we will invite the doctors and researchers to extinguish the flame in a ceremony.
  10. People still write letters to Dr. Banting thanking him for his discovery 76 years after his death. In Banting’s bedroom, visitors will share their thoughts by writing letters to Dr. Banting and leaving comments such as, “if you could only see the effects of your accomplishments today, you would be proud” and “he lived his life the way we all should, he put helping his fellow man above money and fame, I will be eternally grateful”.


An anonymous Dear Dr. Banting Letter written by a visitor to Banting House! 

I think the most important thing that I have learned during my time here, is that while Banting has accomplished so much in his tragically short life, he is an amazing Canadian! I am grateful for the opportunity to have work at Banting House and to have met so many incredible people along the way! Thank you!!

This post was written by Jessica Baptista, Museum Interpreter at Banting House NHSC. Jessica recently graduated with a B.A.H. in History from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing her Masters of Museum Studies graduate degree from the University of Toronto.

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