Thursday, 14 November 2013

Happy Birthday and Eternal Gratitude, Dr. Fred!

Today is a special day in certain circles. It is World Diabetes Day — the highlight of Diabetes Awareness Month (yeah, Movember has to share) ... day of fundraising blasts and famous monuments lighting up in WDD blue (check 'em out here).

And why, you might ask, does this special day happen to fall on November 14th every year? Well! Lemme tell you!

November 14th just happens to be the birthday of the Canadian doc to whom I (among several million others) owe my ongoing existence and after whom my beloved puppy is named: SIR FREDERICK G. BANTING! Here he is, folks .....

Unassuming, kind-hearted last-born of five farm kids ... flunked out of first-year Arts at the U of T, thought he'd be a minister, then — thank God — changed his mind, passed enough biology/chemistry/physics exams to get into med school, and took a keen interest in the devastating killer that Type 1 diabetes was in the days before injectable insulin.

They say Fred Banting loved dogs. It reportedly (and unsurprisingly) pained him deeply that his pre-human insulin trials were conducted on ten unsuspecting canines. When I care for my own Freddie, I sometimes think of Marjorie, the last of Dr. Banting's depancreatized (ie. diabetic) dogs — kept alive on insulin extract for an extraordinary 70 days — and I imagine I'm paying a sort of tribute, and an enormous debt, to her and her kennel mates. Here she is, circa 1922, with Banting and his colleague, Charles Best ...

Good dog, Marjorie.

Another interesting bit of Fred Banting trivia is that he was, according to those in a position to judge such things, quite an accomplished painter. He chummed around with A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven and (unlike certain self-aggrandizing welly-boot decorators out there) took his painting very seriously.

Here is a Canadian Diabetes Association magazine cover featuring one of Banting's works:

Yep ... pretty Group-of-Sevenish! I like it (and would like to see his original colour version).

Back to walking, though ... the question today was where should the Little Doctor and I walk to acknowledge the day?

One of these years, Freddie and I will honour his namesake with a walk to the Banting House National Historic Site and Flame of Hope (which is intended to burn until a cure for diabetes is found, so I guess I should hope the thing is snuffed out before Freddie and I get there). The site is in London, Ontario — a manageable distance, by motorized means, but not one we're able to take on this year.

So ... Plan B?

I mentioned above that all sorts of monuments and buildings around the world are lighting up in blue today ... and it turns out that Vancouver is making its own contributions. Hmm ... a pilgrimage site? OK! We're in! I wanted this post to go live early in the day, so that meant taking advantage of the pre-sunrise illumination of ...


(You'll note in the shots above and below that I really have no clue how to operate my camera.)

I never managed to capture both of us and BC Place in one shot, but at least the blue light came out. (All the passersby who might have taken a photo for us were either plugged into headphones, running intently, or tied to big dogs that were barking at Freddie!)

Other buildings in the city have also lit up in blue. I need to figure out what this one is (east end of False Creek).

Blue reflections ...

If you missed the spectacle this morning, it will resume after sunset, until 11pm.

Other notable birthdays today: HRH Prince Chas, after whom our excellent apartment building is named, and my excellent longtime friend Brenda! Happy Birthday, all you very fine folk!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thank you, Frederick, Marjorie, and Charles. Thank you.

  3. We also are eternally grateful to Sir Frederick Banting, Marjorie and a super DAD, Freddie. We have great admiration for Heather who copes with the affects of having Type 1 diabetes, every day, with strength and determination.
    With love.


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