Government of Canada commemorates the discovery of insulin on 100th anniversary of this life-saving medical breakthrough

News release

November 12, 2021                     Toronto, Ontario                     Parks Canada Agency

Canadians truly appreciate the power of medical research and discovery to improve the health and welfare of humankind. The Government of Canada is committed to honouring and celebrating such ground-breaking Canadian accomplishments.

Today, Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South, on behalf of the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, participated in a ceremony to unveil a plaque recognizing the importance of the discovery of insulin as an event of national historic significance. The ceremony was held in collaboration with the University of Toronto at their Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, an extraordinary development in medical science, saving millions of lives worldwide. Up until the early 20th century, diabetes was a fatal disease. Thanks to a Canadian team of researchers – Frederick Banting, Charles Herbert Best, John J.R. Macleod, and James Bertram Collip – a treatment was discovered in 1921, when they succeeded in isolating and purifying insulin. Following this discovery, they successfully treated diabetic patients at the Toronto General Hospital, making headlines around the world.

In 1923, Banting and Macleod received a Nobel Prize in medicine for their work on the discovery of insulin, stimulating further medical research in Canada. Today, we recognize all four Canadian researchers – Banting, Macleod, Best and Collip – for contributing to one of Canada’s greatest accomplishments in medical research.

Under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Government of Canada on significant persons, places, and events that have shaped our country. National historic designations are one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.

Additional multimedia

Dr. Charles H. Best and Dr. G.R. Williams check one of many experiments being conducted in the lab of the Charles H. Best Institute, University of Toronto. Credit: Library and Archives Canada/National Film Board


“Today, we recognize and honour one of Canada’s most ground-breaking medical discoveries, and the role of Canadian researchers who helped save millions of lives around the world over the last 100 years. The plaque commemorating the discovery of insulin as a national historic event reflects the rich and varied history of Canada and provides an opportunity for Canadians to discover and connect with our diverse heritage.”

Sonia Sidhu
Member of Parliament for Brampton-South

Quick facts

  • In 1921-1922, at a University of Toronto laboratory, Frederick Banting, Charles Best, John J.R. Macleod, and James Collip succeeded in producing extracts of pancreas that contained an effective anti-diabetic agent. They named it insulin, and presided over its development, saving lives around the world and revolutionizing the treatment for the once fatal disease of diabetes.

  • The discovery of insulin is the most celebrated Canadian medical discovery of the 20th century, winning a Nobel Prize in 1923, and stimulating further medical research in Canada.

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national significance of persons, places, and events that have marked history in Canada for recognition under the National Program of Historical Commemoration. Parks Canada supports the Board's work with professional and administrative services, including the conduct of historical and archaeological research needed for evaluating nominations. Together, Parks Canada and the Board ensure that subjects of national historic significance are recognized and these important stories are shared with Canadians.

  • The vast majority of nominations brought forward for the consideration of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada originate from members of the public. For more information on the Board and how to submit a nomination, please visit Parks Canada’s website:

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Julia Grcevic
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Parks Canada Agency, Southwestern Ontario Field Unit

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency


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