This past weekend, Banting House NHSC participated in Doors Open London, which is a program that promotes visitation to London’s heritage sites and hidden gems. This unique opportunity is especially interesting for local individuals, who can get out and explore sites that they have always wanted to experience. The program began in 2002, when the Ontario Heritage Trust launched Doors Open Ontario for the first time, and it’s been growing in popularity ever since. 2019 was London’s 18th year participating in the event and they focused on “Untold Stories of the Forest City”, prompting sites to delve into their unique stories and express their histories through a variety of different mediums.
Here at Banting House, our team of enthusiastic staff and volunteers anxiously awaited our first visitors, with many team members having never participated in a Doors Open event before. Luckily, we did not have to wait for long. Soon, groups of interested individuals began walking through the door, eager to learn about Dr. Banting and London’s local history! I spent the majority of my time in the upstairs rooms of the house, telling visitors about everything from the fateful night that Dr. Banting had his life changing idea, to the pieces of artwork he created that were inspired by landscapes across Canada and beyond. Most visitors were surprised to see his paintings, and questioned how it was possible that someone so scientifically genius could be equally so artistically talented. Dr. Banting’s connection with Canada’s Group of Seven was equally interesting to visitors, and many expressed that Dr. Banting’s life story was much more fascinating and varied than they had expected.
When I asked visitors where they were from, something that I heard a lot was that they were from London, however they had never had the chance to visit Banting House until Doors Open Weekend. This sentiment was echoed many times to me from many different visitors, and it helped me to realize what an amazing program Doors Open Ontario is, and that its importance in helping Londoners experience their local histories cannot be overstated. In total, we welcomed 535 visitors over September 14th and 15th, an increase from last year’s numbers. If you’re interested in learning more about Doors Open Ontario events, click here to check out their website. If you missed Doors Open London, don’t worry! There are so many more Doors Open events coming up soon, including Belleville, Carleton Place, Grimsby, Simcoe County, and Waterloo Region on September 21st, 2019, and Brampton, Burlington, Lambton County, Oshawa, St. Marys, and Halton Region coming up on September 28th, 2019. Happy Exploring!
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.