A. Y. Jackson & Fred Banting aboard the ‘Boethic’ 1927

Fred Banting began his ‘artistic’ career as a diversion during his brief and failed attempt to start a medical practice In London, Ontario (July 1920 – Apr 1921)

In late 1925, Fred struck up a friendship with A.Y. Jackson of ‘Group of Seven’ fame and also joined the Hart House Sketch Club, University of Toronto.

In 1927, Fred accompanied Jackson on at least 2 sketching trips; one on the South shore of the St. Lawrence and one aboard the Canadian Navy ice-breaker, ‘Boethic’ for a 6 week tour of various RCMP posts in the Arctic. The pair undertook many other such journeys in the following decade.

In 2 decades, Fred produced hundreds of sketches and oil paintings. The exact number is not known but an exhibit of his work held at Hart House, University of Toronto, in 1943, included 241 items; mostly paintings on birch panels (8.5” x 10.5”) but some larger works on canvas (21” x 36”).

Many of his ‘sketches’ were assembled in sketch books. Several of those books are held in safekeeping at the Simcoe County Archives, Midhurst, Ontario and together contain over 500 sketches.

A selection of Fred’s sketches, prints of his oil paintings and 2 original oils are part of the Banting Legacy Collection of artifacts, wood carvings and various memorabilia that can be viewed in the historic Banting farmhouse at the SFBLF Diabetes Management and Education Centre at the birthplace of Frederick Banting in Alliston, Ontario, Canada.

This painting, the Discovery Lab, at the University of Toronto is the only known ‘interior’ scene created by Banting. He used the image for his personal bookplate.

In 2018, the original sold at auction in Canada for over $300,000. A print hangs in the Art Room in the Banting Farmhouse at the SFBLF Diabetes Management and Education Centre.