Banting House National Historic Site of Canada
(© Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1981)
442 Adelaide Street North, London, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1900 to 1900
1920 to 1921
Event, Person, Organization:
Dr. Frederick Banting
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: 442 Adelaide Street North and Queens Avenue, London, Ontario
Here, in the early morning hours of October 31, 1920, Dr. Frederick Banting conceived an idea for research that led to the discovery of insulin. He believed that diabetes, then a fatal disease, could be treated by a substance extracted from a dog's atrophied pancreas. Banting was the pivotal member of the Toronto team that isolated and refined this extract, now known as insulin. In January 1922, insulin showed spectacular test results and became a lifesaving therapy worldwide. Banting House, known as the "Birthplace of Insulin", reminds us of the most important Canadian medical discovery of the 20th century.
Description of Historic Place
Banting House is a two-and-a-half-storey, yellow-brick house associated with Dr. Frederick Banting. Originally constructed in 1900, a modern wing was added to the rear of the house in the late 20th century. Banting House is located on a major downtown street in the city of London. It is now operated as a museum presenting Banting's life and achievements. The formal recognition is confined to the building itself.
Banting House was designated a national historic site in 1997 because: it is importantly associated with an event and a person recognized to be of national significance; it is the only extant structure of its kind that is associated with Dr. Frederick Banting between 1920 and 1922; and Banting House is documented and recognized as the site of the defining moment of the most consequential medical discovery in Canadian history. The heritage value of this site resides in its association with Dr Banting as illustrated by the house itself.
Banting purchased the house at 442 Adelaide Street for his home and medical practice, and moved there in July 1920. Banting used the front rooms on the main floor as his consulting office and slept in an upstairs front bedroom, renting the rest of the house to the former owners. It was here one night in October 1920, that, sleepless from anxiety over his finances and his part-time lecturing responsibilities at the university, he conceived the idea that taking an extract from a dog=s pancreas might be useful in treating diabetes. With the help of Professor J.J.R. Macleod, Banting eventually found lab facilities and an assistant (Charles H. Best) at the University of Toronto. There, they and James B. Collip pursued the research that led to the discovery of insulin in January 1922. Banting sold the house at 442 Adelaide Street at the end of 1921.
The house retains its architectural integrity, with the exception of the modern addition on the east side. It is known internationally as AThe Birthplace of Insulin@ and has a special significance to those who suffer from diabetes or do research in the field. It is the only extant historic structure connected with Banting and the discovery of insulin during the 1920-22 period.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, November 1997; Commemorative Integrity Statement, February 2002.
The key elements which relate to the heritage value of Banting House include: the surviving original form of the house, consisting of a two-and-a-half-storey, gable-roofed, side-hall plan house with an L-shaped, pedimented verandah; its yellow brick cladding and wood detailing; the surviving original form and fabric of the three rooms occupied by Banting, including flooring, walls, and ceilings; surviving original fabric in the remainder of the house, including exterior cladding and detailing, double-hung windows, a palladian window in the attic gable, and interior stairs; objects associated with Dr. Banting from his period of occupancy of the house; the scale, location and character of the house, which reflect Banting's profession as a doctor and his status as a new and ambitious doctor in the community; its relationship to the street and the property line, which remain the same as during Banting=s residency.