The first time I had heard about Sir Frederick Banting was in elementary school when my classmate who has Type 1 diabetes did a presentation about him. His discovery amazed me then and still does to this day! However, before this week I still only knew him as the discoverer of insulin.
Grant, the curator of Banting House National Historic Site of Canada, left me the interpretation guide to read. This 23 page document went into detail about the life of Banting and the history of this house. The idea of memorizing this document was a bit intimidating at first but I decided to take the booklet around with me as I looked at the artifacts and displays in the museum. This made the story come to life in front of my eyes making it easier to understand and appreciate. I also had the pleasure of shadowing one of our amazing volunteers give a tour to the public where I learned even more about Banting. It was great to watch the interaction between the tour guide and visitors as it brought about fascinating questions and discussion. Before this week, I had no idea about Banting’s artwork, military involvement, love life, and biological and chemical weapons experiments. And I’ve learned all of this only in the first week of working here!
This week has reinforced in my mind that historical figures were people too, with the complexities that surround any person. They should be remembered for more than just their defining moment (or discovery) as the other elements of their life help to add context and create a deeper understanding. I love how Banting House works to educate the public about so many different aspects of Banting’s life. I am very excited to delve further into the history of Banting and his memory in my next eight months working at Banting House NHSC!
This post was written by Rachel Delle Palme, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House NHSC. Rachel is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.