Dr Collip’s monument and gardens unveiled
The Belleville Bayshore Trail now includes an important and beautiful monument.
Dr James Bertram (Bert) Collip, born in Thurlow Township in 1892, was commemorated on Saturday in the form of a courtyard and a memorial garden in his name.
Dr Collip, along with three other men, was instrumental in discovering the insulin that saved millions of people with diabetes from premature death.
Collip did the job creating insulin 100 years ago in 1921.
A crowd of about 150 people heard that before the discovery of insulin, people with diabetes would have the chance to live another one or two years.
Keynote speaker Dr. Alison Li, historian and author of a book about Dr Collip, said it was his work with the animal pancreas in late 1921 that produced insulin.
As usual, Collip worked alone in the dark of the night in a laboratory, crushing pancreatic tissue, washing it, filtering it and centrifuging it. To remove contaminants, he diluted it with alcohol. When the solution reached 90% alcohol, a white particle formed.
Dr. Li said, “Dr. Collip was examining the insulin.
“Four days later, this new extract was tested on Leonard Thompson, a 13-year-old boy who suffered from diabetes, and the results were clear. Thompson felt stronger, brighter and more active, and his blood sugar fell to normal levels.
Dr Alison Li. (Photo: Quinte News)
Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk said the discovery of insulin was Dr Collip’s most famous achievement, but it wasn’t the only one.
“His work on hormone therapy and research is reaching even more people, in fact, in 2000, Collip’s original research led to the best-selling prescription drug in all of North America. Not bad for a boy from Belleville.
The best-selling prescription drug Panciuk mentioned was for birth control.
The master of ceremonies for the ceremony was the president of the Hastings County Historical Society and member of the Dr. James Bertram Collip Memorial Committee, Richard Hughes. He said Dr Collip had humble beginnings as the son of a market gardener.
“He had a great career and it all started here. We just passed the Belleville market and you can imagine young Bert selling vegetables there like he is today, so it’s an amazing and amazing story.
Hughes, along with several others, made special mention to Rowland (Rollie) Tipper, Chairman of Dr. Collip’s Memorial Committee.
Tipper had fallen ill and was unable to attend the ceremony. He was described by fellow committee member Ian Sullivan as the main driver of the project’s success.
Among those in attendance for the unveiling were the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of Dr. Collip.
They had traveled nearly 2,900 kilometers (almost 1,800 miles) from San Antonio, Texas to Belleville to witness it.