To all the readers of this blog publication, I say hello. My name is Samuel Pitre and I am the student employee working here at Banting House National Historic Site for the remainder of the summer . As some of you repeat readers may remember, I held the same position last year as well. It was an intensely interesting job and I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity do it again this year. Interacting with the stories of Banting’s life and work have provided intense inspiration to my experience as a Masters student at the University of Western Ontario. The power of personality, the cast of reoccurring characters and the intoxicating optimism of early 20th century medical research works as a surer trap for my attention than even sugar to flies. Seeing the man in his private moments, while through the eyes of others, drives home the irascible likeability of Banting. This year I hope to continue to explore the subject and to assist in the valuable task of brining this important information to the public’s attention.
Sam entering letters into the Museum’s fond archive.
Last year, my focus was centered on Banting’s participation in the First World War. With the centennial of the conflict’s conclusion that year and Banting’s own fascination with the military, it was an excellent opportunity to link the struggle against diabetes to the struggles of life on the battlefield. With the help of the regimental diaries of the 13th field ambulance and the personal records of the doctor himself, we were able to create an almost month by month tracking map of Banting’s movements across the Canadian section of the battlefront in 1918. Everything from his arrival onto the shores of France, to his meritorious service at the battle of Canal Du Nord, to his eventual discharge and return to civilian life were tracked, traced and mapped against the changing world of the interwar era. It served to make Banting a living element of the Canadian experience , shaping his experience with the treatment of injuries and
This year, however, the locus of the site’s concentration will be placed more broadly. While one could repeat the truism that this is back to “work as usual”, that would be ignoring the fact that work as usual at Banting House NHS is quite remarkable. Going through the accounts of Banting’s friends, his family, the media he despised and the patients that he empathized with, galvanizes one’s desire to learn more about this man and the lives that he touched. It puts a fire in your stomach to let everyone you know hear about the work you are doing and what you are uncovering every day. I hope that I can share this feeling and knowledge with you this summer, and I look forward to seeing some of you in the coming weeks.
This post was written by Samuel Pitre, summer student at
Banting House NHS. Samuel is currently completing his M.A. in History at