4th Greatest Canadian

23 Jan

Letter To Banting From Child Who Had Diabetes

Letter from Betsy, a child with diabetes. Source: He conquered death : the story of Frederick Grant Banting by Margaret Mason Shaw — Toronto : Macmillan, 1946. — 111 p., [11] leaves of plates : ill., ports., facsim. ; 21 cm. © Public Domain nlc-12101

On January 23, 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson, who was dying from complications due to  diabetes at the Toronto General Hospital, was injected with the first purified preparation of insulin.  His condition improved.  Dramatically!

Who were this boy’s heroes?  Frederick Banting, his assistant Charles Best, J.B. Collip, and fellow colleagues, who all worked under the direction of Professor Macleod.

As soon as it was reasonable to call it a success, the University of Toronto immediately gave pharmaceutical companies license to produce insulin, free of royalties!

By 1923, Frederick Banting was the most famous man in Canada. He received letters and gifts from hundreds of grateful diabetics all over the world. Banting and Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Banting shared the award money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best.  Macleod shared his with Collip.

Dr. Banting returned to his love of painting and became a sketching companion of Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson.

In 1934, Banting was part of the last group of Canadians to be knighted by King George V.

As war loomed in Europe, Banting was excited about contributing to the war effort for Canada. On February 21, 1941, as he was leaving on a secret scientific mission to Great Britain, his plane crashed in Newfoundland and he was killed instantly.

On April 5, 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), produced The Greatest Canadian.  A television program in which Canadians voted to determine who is considered to be the greatest Canadian of all time. Frederick Banting was voted in 4th place.

To read his September 15, 1925 Nobel Speech, go to The Official Web site for the Nobel Prize. For media clips, you can find no better place than CBC Archives. For more on Frederick Banting, I do recommend starting at

English: C. H. Best and F. G. Banting ca. 1924

C. H. Best and F. G. Banting ca. 1924 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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4 responses to “4th Greatest Canadian

  1. Hitchcock

    January 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Great idea for a blog! This is a fine way for me to get acquainted with my northern neighbors.

    • tkmorin

      January 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

      That’s the idea! Thanks for visiting and the comment! 🙂

  2. alesiablogs

    January 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Diabetes is a huge killer. Thank God these folks can live with this disease because of medical discoveries!

    • tkmorin

      January 23, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      You are so right about that! 🙂


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