While George Minot’s career was skyrocketing in July 1920, Fred Banting’s career was stalled. He had wanted to be a surgeon in Toronto, but abandoned those hopes when none of the Toronto hospitals would hire him. Instead, he opened a small office as a general physician in the town of London, Ontario.
Banting bought a house at 442 Adelaide Street North. He had a front room outfitted as an examination room for patients, a small pantry was used to store and mix drugs. Upstairs was a bedroom where he slept. London was about 110 miles west of Toronto. London was a decent sized city with a population of about 60,000 at the time.
Banting’s medical practice started slowly. In his first month of business, he kept regular office hours, but saw only one patient. The patient had wandered into Banting’s office in mid-July requesting a prescription for alcohol. Ontario had been dry since 1916 when the Ontario Temperance Act was passed, but alcohol was recognized as a medicine. Physicians could legally write prescriptions for and provide patients with alcohol. Banting noted that the man was expecting friends visiting. He wrote the man his prescription and sent him on his way.