Searching For Two Nobel Laureates

It was a chilly, gray day when I took the subway to a Toronto neighbourhood called The Annex (sounds like the beginning of a bad novel, doesn’t it?).

The Annex is a former suburb of early Toronto, now an upscale neighbourhood in the heart of the city, located just north of the university.

I was on a quest to find two particular heritage buildings – the former residences of Dr Frederick Banting, and Lester B. Pearson.

Even if you aren’t Canadian, the name of Dr. Banting is likely one you recognize, especially if you are diabetic.  In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research in isolating insulin in a usable form for treating diabetes in humans.

Dr. Banting, along with a medical student, Charles Best, conducted their research at the University of Toronto, and the house I was looking for was said to be his residence during this time.

What I found instead was a playground.

Annex

I searched around for a while looking for a plaque or some other kind of memorial, but I came up empty-handed.  Either my intel was incorrect, or this now non-existent building simply didn’t make the heritage list.

However, not all was lost.  I found many random buildings with heritage plaques on them like this one below.  Sadly, none of the plaques say *why* the building was considered significant.

Annex 2
I love this striking blue door with its decorative transom window combined with the beautiful top trim of the large adjacent window.

This door may not be spectacular compared to many, and should likely lose points for still having Christmas decorations in March …

Annex-2

… but all is forgiven because of the wonderful house it was attached to.  It gets bonus points from me for the stacked verandah.

Annex-3

I had more luck finding the former residence of Lester Pearson.  You may recognize this name if you’ve ever flown through Toronto, since our International Airport was named for him.

Pearson was Prime Minister of Canada in the 1960s and earned his place in history by winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 while he was Minister of External Affairs.

Annex - Lester B. Pearson

His Peace Prize was related to the Suez Crisis of 1956 when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, which triggered an invasion by Israel, Great Britain and France. Egypt appealed to the Soviet Union for support and the world was once again on the brink of war.

Don’t countries remind you of children sometimes?  The lessons we learned in kindergarten just seem to give so many leaders a difficult time … share, play nicely, don’t be a jerk …

If you’ve ever wondered where Canada got its reputation as peacekeepers, this is it. Pearson proposed the first United Nations peacekeeping force.  The resulting multi-country force was large enough to secure the Suez area while political solutions could be negotiated.

Annex - Lester B. Pearson 4

I’m guessing Pearson lived in this area of Toronto while attending the university and while I can’t be sure of what it looked like at the time, this old home is a beauty today.

Annex - Lester B. Pearson 2

Perhaps I should have paid more attention to its front door, but frankly those little turret shapes were a distraction.

Annex - Lester B. Pearson 3

That’s my excuse.  I’m sticking with it.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton from Montreal.  There are always plenty of interesting doors and buildings on display at Norm’s place.  Drop in for a visit.

94 comments

  1. Toronto is jammed with such amazing architecture and history for that matter. I am curious if the metal sculpture is part of the playground. Of course my mind immediately turned to how I might climb that structure. some things never change. 🙂

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  2. That Pearson house is gorgeous. Those turrets and the windows in them! Stunning! I love the owl doorknocker on the blue door. That’s an interesting playground piece. It looks intriguing.

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  3. I will never forget wandering around Toronto with a friend during my university days, and moving closer to a beautiful old house so that we could peer at the brass heritage plaque attached to the wall.

    It read – “On this spot in 1894, absolutely nothing happened.”

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  4. I can certainly understand being distracted by the building details, especially those turrets, Joanne, it’s stunning. I like the blue door a lot, and like the sculpture in the playground – it’s a pitcher, correct?

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  5. I loved that blue door, but that round window at the Pearson house…WOW!! It’s gorgeous!

    The house with the Christmas wreath is also wonderful. Too bad they haven’t put up a different wreath. 😦

    I think you found some lovely doors, and windows on this doorscursion even though you didn’t find what you were looking for.

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    • So true – I don’t always find what I’m looking for, but I usually end up finding something that makes the trip worthwhile 🙂

      I’m not sure which round window you’re talking about, but if it’s the oval one beside the door, omg YES!

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  6. You have some wonderful Victorian architecture in Toronto, Joanne. I would love to live in a home with turrets and towers and cool windows. (Though I don’t want to have to maintain it or clean it). Lol. Great tour and a little history lesson as well. 😀

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  7. Love the Pearson’s house – it looks more like a small castle:) Here, there are also houses who leave their Christmas lights and other decoration on the whole year.
    Of course, history is always seen through colored glasses. In one country’s history book it says, “date – Independence from Holland, in the Dutch history book it says, date- uprising of the Flemish.”
    The Suez canal is a very precarious point – I still remember that night as a little girl, when our ocean liner on which our family was with hundreds of others, traveling from Indonesia to Holland, that we had to go go through two (countries) custom points!!
    With Egypt nationalizing the Suez canal it had a lot of power – the only point to go from Asia and Australia to Europe, since ships were then the common way of travel.
    Sorry for the digression, but I can imagine it was a crisis!

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    • Wow – that’s a piece of history with a very personal angle to it! I’m curious … my understanding is that the canal was closed to traffic for almost 7 months. How did you get through? Or were you too young to remember the details?
      … and you’re so right about the history books. It’s always different depending on who is telling it.

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      • Was 5 years old and remember it was night, but all the the lights on the ship were on. My parents were complaining to each other, and seemed nervous, about having to show their passports again. I had heard the word passport, but didn’t know what it meant. That’s all I remember.In that time, parents didn’t share things with their kids what they do now:)

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  8. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I just got educated about some of your celebrated Nobel Laureates and was rewarded with some great pix of doors and historic buildings. Curious about your failure to find the Banting House I checked Wikipedia and it seems they designated the farm where he grew up as his official museum of historic significance (guess his home near the university where he worked didn’t count when they made the farm the museum). Great post, Joanne!

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    • I had read about the farm, as well as a house in London Ontario which has been made a heritage site.
      I can only assume that I had bad information about this place in The Annex. I am going to keep poking around though. He had to have lived somewhere while he worked in Toronto.

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  9. First off, your new look rocks! I love your pic and I appreciate the large type and clean look.

    That “carafe” made of wire (I think) is amazing! The homes and doors are gorgeous. There are one or two houses on my daily walk that still have Christmas decorations up. I guess they just stop seeing them after they have ignored them for so long. I have to admit that at first, I thought the last two brick houses had been abandoned since it looked like all the landscaping was dead and overgrown… than I realized that that must be what winter looks like 🙂 . I’d love to see them again when everything turns green again.

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    • I laughed out loud at your comment about the landscaping being dead and overgrown. Yes! Welcome to March in Canada 😆
      Although everything has been dormant for a while, by the time we get to March, everything looks so …. decrepit!
      On a positive note, it is a lot easier to see many homes and properties because all the growth isn’t hiding them.

      You’re the second person who mentioned the large font. I didn’t change the font – just the theme, and I didn’t think it looked any bigger than it was before. Now that I think about it though, I haven’t needed my glasses 😉

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  10. First off I love the new blog look and your new pic.
    Too bad about the Banting house. The architecture in this part of the city is wonderful.
    We recently saw a few shops with Christmas decorations still up around here as well. Tsk, tsk 😦

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    • Thanks Norm. Spring is here so I felt it was time for some sprucing up on the blog 🙂

      The Annex is one of those neighbourhoods with one spectacular house after another. Often the doors are either new, or hard to see because they’re recessed in a deeply shaded verandah.
      I’m hoping that my info on the Banting house was incorrect, but I haven’t been able to find anything yet.

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  11. The Admiral Road building is so fancy. Lovely find and great photos.

    [Something has happened to your blog. It’s large now. Is it supposed to be– or is my computer on drugs and hallucinating again?]

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  12. I liked your noble efforts to find the homes of these great men, Joanne. Interesting bits of history, and Pearson’s home is beautiful. I love the leaded glass windows, and the peace he saw through them.

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  13. The next time that I’m in Toronto, I’m signing up for a walking tour with you, Joanne. I love your “Toronto Thursday Door Tours”, what you find and the histories and photos that you share! I often get so engaged with your posts (like this one) that I keep on Googling to find out even more!

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  14. I’ve always wanted a room in a turret. I would have been distracted, too. Interesting/sad that politicians (even decent ones like Pearson) achievements are recognized and deemed worthy of commemoration but a scientist’s discoveries, which changed the lives of millions of people with diabetes, are shuffled into oblivion and their homes razed. Where would we be w/out Banting and Best’s discovery? Great post, Joanne.

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    • I still want to believe that one day I will have a home with a turret … but I’m starting to run out of time! 🙂

      I’m quite shocked about the Banting residence and I can only assume that I had the wrong information.

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  15. This was a very interesting post to read, especially as it dealt with the two famous Canadians Dr, Banting and Lester Pearson. Your photos and outstanding description made me painfully aware of how quickly we forget the great personalities of our country.

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    • So very true. I admit that although I knew Pearson had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize related to the Suez Crisis, I had no idea what exactly he had done to earn it.
      These little excursions into history are quite interesting.

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    • I think I read too many Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries as a kid. Houses with turrets were prime properties for adventures, secrets, and mysteries to be solved. I’ve never outgrown my love for them 🙂

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  16. Very cool, Joanne! Loved the photos and the history lesson. I knew Pearson was PM and had an airport named after him but forgot about the Nobel prize and why it was given. Shame on me! Also love the new look of the blog and your photo. You rock!

    Deb

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    • Thanks Deb. I was long overdue for an overhaul on the blog estate … and synchronizing the photo across all the social media platforms was a pain. I’m sure I’ve missed something along the line.

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  17. The details in the Pearson residence are really amazing. While visiting the Nobel Museum in Stockholm I distinctly remember the Banting display ( as a pharmacist I gravitated to the medicine prize displays).

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    • I didn’t realize there was a Nobel Museum in Stockholm. I imagine that to be a really interesting place to spend time.
      Reading about Banting was quite interesting. I hadn’t realized he gravitated to this research after he was asked to do a presentation on the pancreas which wasn’t his area of expertise.

      Thanks for visiting! 🙂

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  18. Lester Pearson had a beautiful residence. And those blue doors–oh, yes! Houses with Christmas decorations….that so cracks me up. We have several houses that keep their Christmas lights up but change out the bulbs to match the…..occasion. Red/green for Christmas, purple/yellow/green for Mardi Gras, orange for Halloween….and so it goes. Happiest house in the neighborhood.

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    • I’m willing to forgive people for leaving lights up until the spring, as long as they don’t actually turn them on, but given the relatively mild weather we’ve had off and on since the end of February, the other decorations are just wrong.

      Liked by 2 people

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