Hello everyone! My name is Jenna Philbrick and I am thrilled to be beginning my first week as a Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House National Historic Site of Canada. I’m currently completing my M.A. in Public History at Western University, but I am originally from Niagara (Where Dr. Banting worked and trained at Niagara Camp during the First World War!).
Before beginning my time at Banting House, I knew very little about Dr. Frederick Banting, the man who discovered insulin and saved countless lives with his discovery. I had certainly heard about the discovery of insulin, but my knowledge of the discoverers stopped with the names “Banting and Best”. “Best”, of course, referring to Charles Herbert Best, Dr. Banting’s assistant and one of the co-discoverers of insulin. Because of my initial lack of knowledge about Dr. Banting, coming to Banting House for the first time earlier this week was an eye-opening experience. Not only was Dr. Banting the youngest man to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, but he also enjoyed painting and at times worked with Canada’s own Group of Seven! There are so many interesting facts and stories about Dr. Banting and his life to be explored inside the walls of the museum, and I am so honoured to have the opportunity to both learn about them and share them with visitors.
After my first walk through the house, the thing that surprised me the most was how moving the experience was. Many people who live with, or have families and friends who live with, diabetes, travel long distances to visit Banting House and pay their respects to Dr. Banting. An incredibly moving way this can be done is through the “Dear Dr. Banting” letters that sit in Dr. Banting’s bedroom. Hearing the stories about those who have visited and reading the letters left by visitors was a very heartwarming and emotional experience that left me feeling like I was becoming a part of something bigger than I first thought. I am beyond excited to be beginning to work with the passionate team at Banting house for the next four months, and I am looking forward to all of the unique projects and events that I’ll have the pleasure of working on. Here’s to new beginnings!
This post was written by Jenna Philbrick, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House NHSC. Jenna is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.