Dear Diary

There’s never a shortage of fascinating archival material at Banting House NHSC! This week, I’ve been examining a diary written by Marion Robertson Banting in 1926, which focuses on her and Dr. Frederick Banting’s trip to Canada’s west coast and Alaska. The diary is fascinating to read, and even contains references to Banting’s love of painting, as he painted quite often while travelling. In a previous blog post, I mentioned that our ultimate goal was to publish a book about our collection of Banting’s art and the amazing places that he travelled to while painting, and this diary is hopefully going to be a great resource!


Marion Robertson Banting’s 1926 Diary

The diary entries begin on Tuesday, May 25th, 1926, and end abruptly on Sunday, June 20th, 1926, meaning we only have about one month of material. Fortunately for us, the entries are full of information, and describe the Bantings’ daily life while travelling. As I mentioned, there is even a reference to Banting painting at Jasper National Park. Marion sets the scene by writing “Up early to catch our first view of the Rockies and arrived at Jasper Park at 8:40” on May 29th, and follows up the next day by writing “Fred up at sunrise and off painting in spite of cold + showery weather” on May 30th. Banting’s Jasper Park painting that we have in our collection was painted in 1926, and therefore was likely painted while on this trip. Maybe it was even painted on the morning of May 30th, 1926!

Frederick G. Banting, Jasper Park, 1926, oil on wood, Gift of Dr. W. L. Tew, 1984.

Though reading through the diary has been a really interesting experience, because of Marion’s cursive writing, there were times when I struggled to read what was on the page. Unfortunately, my year was the first class in my grade school to never learn or write in cursive, and that fact has certainly come back to haunt me while working in the heritage field. I’ve picked it up pretty well over time, but I definitely still struggle, simply because I’m not used to writing in cursive.

Here is a sample entry from Marion’s diary, let us know in the comments if you’re able to read her writing easily, or if you struggle a little like I do!

Marion Robertson Banting’s diary entry from June 3rd, 1926

Make sure to stay tuned for more updates about our plans for the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, including our book based on Banting’s paintings in our collection! If you want to learn more about the Banting House NHSCs current projects and events, make sure to check out our Facebook page here and our upcoming World Diabetes Day event here.


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