Smile and the World Looks Brighter

Hello and welcome to the fine readers of this blog. My name is Samuel Pitre and today I have both fortunate and unfortunate news. In the tradition of optimists, I will start with the unfortunate information: today is my last day as an employee of Diabetes Canada and Banting House National Historic Site. I have been called back to the halls of Western University to continue my studies in history. Yet I am still deeply attached to this place. My short time here has been of the utmost interest. Being able to explore Banting history to the degree that I have has not only renewed my perspectives on the man, but in the way history is handled and approached on a practical level. This is an experience that will be forever invaluable to my growth as a historian. I deeply enjoyed my time here as an employee, and will be sure to check up on the place quite frequently.

Despite this heartfelt farewell, I will be leaving a part of myself to the museum. I have been honored to work on the virtual map project that examines Banting’s participation in the First World War. Designed to be used in conjunction with the physical “Luckiest boy in France” exhibit at the museum, this virtual map points out the major movements and events of Banting’s tour of service in France. It includes details from his original attestation papers, his time served in training and behind the line research, as well as significant unit movements and dispositions during his stay in France. Banting’s experience in a front line unit is mostly documented in the war diary of the Number 13 Field Ambulance. This unit was present in some of the most important Canadian engagements of the Last Hundred Days. The diary allows the map to depict their deployment, particularly in the Battle of Amiens, showing the role that that field ambulances played in supporting Canadian offensives in 1918. The map examines this role in within the context of the offensives themselves, following the movements of the unit in conjunction with the ever advancing Canadian line. My hope for the map is that it will be able to provide an accessible, easily-digestible, and detail oriented account of Banting’s experience for the enjoyment of both the average guest to Banting House and those more interested in his military service record. I hope it will see use by students and visitors alike, contributing not only to their understanding of Frederick Banting but of the First World War as well.

On another note, I would like to thank Banting House for giving me the opportunity to work for them. As I mentioned before, I am a student of History at western university, so I relished the opportunity to work for a heritage site like this. I became familiar with the Banting history and mythos, helped along by the stellar information provided by my boss Grant Maltman and the experience of the volunteers that help to run the museum. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their help and generosity over this month. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you as well, fair reader. Your attention to detail and observance of my contributions to this blog have redoubled my efforts in the field of history. Its thanks to you, the visitors to the museum, my coworkers and my superior that my faith in this career path has been redoubled and my hope in public history reinforced.

Thank you for reading. I wish you farewell on all your journeys, and in the words of Doctor Banting: “Smile and the world looks brighter”.

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