Frederick Grant Banting (Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Doctor, Sir)

Library and Archives of Canada

Frederick Grant Banting (1891–1941), medical scientist, doctor, and Nobel Laureate, is one of the most distinguished scientists of Canada. Banting was a medical student at the University of Toronto when he volunteered for the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) on September 8, 1915. His studies were fast-tracked to meet the need for more doctors in the Army. He reported for duty with the CAMC in December 1916, just one day after he graduated. He served in military hospitals in England and, in 1918, was wounded in his right arm by a shell at the Battle of Cambrai, in northern France. Despite his injury, he continued to tend to casualties for another 16 hours and was later awarded the Military Cross for his actions.

After the war, Banting returned to the University of Toronto to complete his surgical training. Banting’s research into diabetes, with colleague J.J.R. Macleod and medical student Charles H. Best, led to the discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetic patients. He and Macleod were Service Recordjointly awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research. Then only 32 years of age, Banting remains the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in the area of physiology and medicine. His career included research into silicosis, cancer, the mechanisms of drowning, and physiological problems suffered at high altitudes. King George V knighted him in 1934. During a trip to England on February 21, 1941, Frederick G. Banting died when the plane crashed in Newfoundland.

Service Record Details

Date of Birth: November 14, 1891 (Alliston, Ontario)

Date of Attestation: September 8, 1915 (Niagara Camp), May 4, 1915 (Toronto), December 10, 1916 (Ex Camp,

Attestation Paper 1Toronto).

Age at Enlistment: 25 years old

Prior Military Service: “Two years with the 36th Peel.” Eight months with the Canadian Army Medical Corps 2nd Field Ambulance.

Height: 5 feet, 11 inches

Weight: 175 lbs

Description: Fair complexion, blue eyes, light brown hair. Methodist, Presbyterian.

Home Address: Alliston, Ontario

Trade: Medical Student, Physician

Married: No

Next of Kin: Father, William Thompson Banting. Mother, Mrs. William Thompson Banting.

Theatre of War: Canada, England, France

Casualties/Medical History
  • September 28, 1918 – Banting experiences a gunshot wound to the right forearm at the Battle of Cambrai. AAttestation Paper 2stamp on his file indicates that he is given an “anti-tetanus inoculation” upon admission to hospital.
  • October 1, 1918 – He is transferred from Ville de Lieges, Belgium to Shorncliffe, England.
  • Banting spends a total of 20 days in hospital because of his wound. The larger bone in his right forearm is slightly damaged and fragments of bullet are removed in surgery. He has a scar and some loss of movement in the little finger of his affected hand.
Interesting Details from the Service Record
  • Banting enlists as a medical student, returns to medical school, graduates, and re-enlists. He is at the rank of Staff Sergeant Nursing when granted leave to return to his medical studies. Upon graduation, he rejoins as an officer, with the rank of Lieutenant. He serves in Canada and England, where he is made Captain, eventually joining the Field Ambulances in France.
  • June 29, 1918 – Upon his arrival in France, Banting is taken on strength (TOS) with the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital. He is TOS with the 13th Canadian Field Ambulance on July 14th and with the 5th Canadian Field Ambulance on August 18th.
  • In 1918, he is granted leave for Christmas and awarded the Military Cross on December 31st.
  • A letter from Lieutenant Colonel Richardson, one of his commanding officers, dated September 2, 1919, is contained in his service file. It states that Banting served with the Stationary Hospital in Niagara-on-the-Lake from May 4 to October 14, 1915. He was granted two periods of leave, each lasting for six months, to attend and complete medical school at “Toronto University.”

The London Gazette

Supplement to The London Gazette, July 30, 1919, Page 9789
“Capt., Frederick Grant Banting, 13th Fld. Amb., Can. A.M.C.
Near Haynecourt on September 28, 1918, when the medical officer of the 46th Canadian battalion was wounded, he immediately proceeded forward through intense shell fire to reach the battalion. Several of his men were wounded and he, neglecting his own safety, stopped to attend to them. While doing this he was wounded himself and was sent out notwithstanding his plea to be left at the front. His energy and pluck were of a very high order.”

Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)

Census Records

1901 Census Census Record 1901

  • At age 9, Frederick G. Banting is living in Simcoe South, Sub-District of Essa, in Ontario. His father is William Banting (52), a farmer, of Irish descent, and his mother, Margaret (46), is also Irish. Their religion is listed as Methodist. They have five children, Nelson A. (19), William T. (18), Alexander (17), Ester (13), and Frederick (9).

1911 Census

  • At age 19, Frederick G. Banting still resides at home with both of his parents, his sister Ester, and his brotherCensus Record 1911Alexander (who now calls himself Kenneth). The older boys have moved out. Nelson is married to a woman named Margaret (24). His brother William (who now calls himself Thompson) is married to a woman named Lena (22) and they have a two-month-old daughter named Helen.

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Canada’s forgotten Cold Warriors

Paul Manson – Globe and Mail

Canadian soldiers take part in a NATO exercise in West Germany in 1989.
Canadian soldiers take part in a NATO exercise in West Germany in 1989.

The federal election campaign, coupled with recent compelling reporting in The Globe and Mail about Canada’s military veterans, has stimulated welcome – and much needed – discussion about our veterans and the ways in which they are treated.

But references in two recent and otherwise thoughtful articles follow a disturbing pattern. One article, which included tallies from Veterans Affairs Canada, referred to “685,300 Canadian veterans: 75,900 from the Second World War, 9,100 from the Korean War and 600,300 from subsequent peacekeeping missions and conflicts, including at least 40,000 younger Afghanistan war vets.” Another opinion article took up the same theme, referring to Canadian casualties in the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan and “numerous United Nations peacekeeping assignments.”

Stunningly absent from both accounts is even the slightest mention of what was by far Canada’s most important military activity since 1945: Our contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in the Cold War, from 1950 to 1990. It was a massive commitment. Several hundred thousand Canadian military members served in the vital cause of deterring Soviet aggression, thereby joining Canada’s allies in preventing the outbreak of a third world war and the nuclear holocaust that would have ensued.

And our Canadian soldiers, sailors and air officers were good. At one point, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, an American, told me, “You Canadians set the standard in NATO.” We were well trained, well equipped and superbly motivated. In spite of unique organizational challenges, we earned great respect from our allies. Our small but powerful mechanized brigade in West Germany was an elite force, given the toughest assignments. Our air force, both in NORAD and in Europe, won numerous competitions, especially with the Canadian-built and powered F-86 Sabre, considered the world’s best fighter in the 1950s. At sea, our navy showed that it was a quality force. On several occasions, a Canadian was chosen to command NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic.

Canada and Canadians paid a heavy price for all this. To put it concisely, our Cold War operations resulted in more fatalities due to military service than in the Korean War, the Balkan conflicts, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and peacekeeping – combined. For aircrew deaths alone, the number was 926.

Why has this been forgotten, to the extent that Cold War veterans apparently don’t seem to deserve even a passing mention these days?

Some possible reasons come to mind. Much of this happened a relatively long time ago, much of it far from home – in the north, at sea, in Europe. And news media coverage was much less intensive in the days before real-time TV reporting and embedded journalists. For example, whenever a Canadian airman was killed in Europe (as more than 100 were), he was invariably buried in a small military cemetery in Choloy-Ménillot, France; no ramp ceremony, no funerary procession along the Highway of Heroes, no headlines.

Then there is the mythology that has arisen to the effect that peacekeeping has been the principal occupation of Canada’s military since the Second World War. Our Blue Beret peacekeepers did wonderful work back when there were real opportunities for keeping conflicting armies apart, but the reason they were so effective is that they had the skills and credibility that come from having been trained for modern heavy warfare.

Another explanation for the public silence regarding Canada’s NATO and NORAD veterans is that there has emerged a troubling tendency on the part of some in this country to look upon those who did not fight in a shooting war as second-class veterans.

My entire career was encompassed by the Cold War years, including 10 years with my family in France and Germany. The Cold War, however, was not a shooting war. I have told Canadians on many occasions that my greatest pride in having served is that, from the end of the Korean War until I retired 37 years later, not a single shot was fired in combat by the Canadian military.

Our job was deterrence, and deterrence worked. We trained for war so that we wouldn’t have to fight a war.

It’s a shame that the story has been largely forgotten. On this Remembrance Day, my earnest hope is that Canadians, when they pause to commemorate the many sacrifices that our veterans have made through the years, will give a moment to those whose service as Cold Warriors, although unheralded, really made a difference. Lest we forget.

Keish (“Kaysh”): “Skookum Jim” Mason

skookum jim masonKEISH (Skookum Jim, James Mason), Tagish; b. c. 1855 in the vicinity of what is now Bennett Lake, Y.T./B.C., son of Kaachgaawáa, the head of the Tlingit crow clan, and Gus’dutéen, of the Tagish wolf clan; m. in the customary way Daakuxda.éit, a Tlingit woman, and in 1895 they had a daughter; d. 11 July 1916 in Carcross, Y.T.

Keish’s family origins lay in the trading alliance between coastal Tlingit and inland Tagish. His parents made their home close to the present site of Carcross. In the mid 1880s he worked during the summers on the Alaska coast as a packer, earning wages by carrying miners’ supplies over the passes to the headwaters of the Yukon River system. While thus engaged, he earned the title Skookum Jim for his legendary physical strength, skookum being the word for strong in the Chinook Jargon.

L - R: "Dawson Charlie,"  Skookum Jim" Mason, and George Carmack.
L – R: “Dawson Charlie,” Skookum Jim” Mason, and George Carmack.

At this time also he met George Washington Carmack, an American trader and prospector who was working as a packer at Dyea. Skookum Jim and his nephew Dawson Charlie [Káa Goox*] formed a partnership with Carmack and spent the next two summers working as packers on the Chilkoot Pass (Alaska/B.C.). Through his association with Carmack, Jim developed gold fever, and in 1888 the three men made their first prospecting trip together up the Yukon River. The bonds of partnership were strengthened later the same year when Carmack began living with Jim’s sister Shaaw Tláa, who became known as Kate Carmack.

In the summer of 1889 the Carmacks travelled up the Yukon River to prospect in the Forty Mile region, leaving Jim and Charlie behind at Tagish. When they had not returned several years later, Skookum Jim decided to look for them. He took his two nephews Koołseen (Patsy Henderson) and Charlie along. They found the couple and their three-year-old daughter camped at the mouth of the Klondike River, salmon fishing. After helping with the fish nets, Jim and Charlie set off with George into the Klondike basin to prospect.

Gold, Gold, Gold!
Gold, Gold, Gold!

In mid August 1896 they discovered gold on Rabbit (Bonanza) Creek. George Carmack staked the double “discovery claim” before Charles Constantine, the acting commissioner, on 24 Sept. 1896, while Jim and Charlie staked on either side. For the next four years the three men divided up the work on the four claims and shared close to one million dollars in gold. Jim and his family had trouble adapting to the new lifestyle their wealth facilitated, and the time after the strike was difficult for them. In an attempt to live by non-native standards, Jim built a big house for his wife and daughter at Carcross in 1898. Ornately furnished, it was the grandest in the village. Here he spent his winters, hunting and trapping at Tagish Lake. In the spring he returned to the Klondike, a dapper figure as he walked through Dawson “wearing a tailor-made suit and a white shirt, a heavy nugget watch-chain draped across his vest and a large nugget stickpin in his tie,” according to author James Albert Johnson. He developed an alcohol problem, however, and in 1905 he placed the remainder of his fortune in trust so that he would not give it away or waste it on drink. The new life did not suit Daakuxda.éit and that year, after several attempts at reconciliation, she left him permanently to return to her village on the coast of Alaska. The marriages of the other family members did not fare much better.

Skookum Jim was known to all as a generous man and one deeply concerned for his family. After George Carmack left Kate almost penniless, Jim built her a cabin at Carcross. Even in death he would continue to support his family, since his estate provided yearly sums for the welfare of Kate, his daughter Saayna.aat (Daisy Mason), and Patsy Henderson. A substantial amount was left in trust for the benefit of Yukon Indians. He died at home after a long illness.

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Charlene Porsild

Another interesting site on the topic of the Klondike gold rush:

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A Tribute to the Husky Dog…

Something a bit different this week. “Transportation in the North” is an educational motion picture short made in 1925. to teach schoolchildren the rural way of life.

An admirable idea.

Husky dog travel (“mushing”) would have been quite common in the rural areas, but – like today – a novelty in urban settings like Toronto.

Marie-Anne Lagimodière (née Gaboury)

Grandmere de Louis Riel

Meeting of the Lagimodieres and First Nations People
Meeting of the Lagimodieres and First Nations People

Marie-Anne Lagimodière (née Gaboury) (2 August 1780 – 14 December 1875) was a French-Canadian woman noted as both the grandmother of Louis Riel,[1]and as the first woman of European descent to travel to and settle in what is now Western Canada.

Early life

Gaboury was born in Maskinongé, Quebec, a village near modern Trois-Rivières. Her early life was uneventful, and she lived there until her marriage on 21 April 1806 to Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière. Lagimodière was originally from nearby Saint-Ours; he had become a Coureur des bois employed in the fur trade by the Hudson’s Bay Company in Rupert’s Land.

Travels in the west

Immediately following their marriage, and in defiance of the custom of the time, Gaboury travelled to the west with her new husband. They went first to the area near the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers near what would later become the Red River Colony, and, eventually, modern Winnipeg, Manitoba. They wintered at a Métis encampment near Pembina, North Dakota, where the first of her eight children was born on 6 January 1807.

The following spring, the Lagimodières travelled to the valley of the Saskatchewan River, settling eventually in what is now northern Saskatchewan, where they remained until 1811, living a semi-nomadic lifestyle among other French-Canadian trappers and their native wives. During this period, Marie-Anne accompanied her husband on many trapping and buffalo hunting expeditions, often venturing as far west as present-day Alberta. Her second child was born on the open prairie shortly after her horse had bolted towards a herd of buffalo, and on another occasion she fought and shot a large bear that had attacked one of their companions.

The young family was once taken prisoner while trapping by Tsuu T’ina tribesmen because of their association with local Cree. Although they managed to escape on horseback, they were pursued for five days until reaching the safety of Fort des Prairie (also known as Fort Augustus, a counterpart to Fort Edmonton) near modern Edmonton, Alberta.

Before his marriage, Jean-Baptiste had previously been involved “à la façon du pays” [in the style of the country] with a native woman who had borne his children. Marie-Anne was tolerant and accepting of the children arising from this previous relationship, although the other woman was jealous and reportedly threatened to poison her. Despite this incident, the Lagimodières generally had good relationships with the Aboriginal peoples they encountered. Marie-Anne was often regarded as an object of curiosity by the Natives during her travels, as she was invariably the first white woman they had ever seen – some were even led to believe that she possessed supernatural powers.

Return to the Red River

On hearing that Lord Selkirk was establishing a permanent colony at the Red River, they returned to help establish the new Red River Colony in the spring of 1812. The early history of the settlement was characterized by struggles between the Hudson’s Bay Company and its rival, the North West Company, culminating in the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. Although the Lagimodières managed to avoid involvement with the violent confrontations, Jean-Baptiste was asked by HBC representative Colin Robertson to take news of the events to Lord Selkirk. Over the winter of 1815 – 1816, Lagimodière travelled over 2,900 kilometers on horseback and on foot in fulfillment of this mission. During this time, Marie-Anne was obliged to seek shelter among the aboriginal tribes when the Nor’Westers took possession of Fort Douglas. On his return from the east, Jean-Baptiste was taken prisoner by the Nor’Westers and was imprisoned in Fort William until August 1816. The Lagimodières were not reunited until September 1816, after the unrest had subsided.

In recognition of his service, Lord Selkirk awarded Jean-Baptiste a tract of land near the Red River, which the Lagimodières successfully homesteaded for many years. They had six more children, including, in 1822, Julie Lagimodière, the future mother of Louis Riel. Dying at age 95 in 1875, Marie-Anne lived to see Manitoba become part of the Canadian Confederation following Riel’s actions during the Red River Rebellion of 1869–1870.


She is sometimes remembered as the “Grandmother of the Red River”, and many of the Métis people of the Canadian Prairies can trace their ancestry to her.

École Marie-Anne-Gaboury, a French immersion elementary school in St. Vital, Winnipeg, Manitoba was named in her honour, as is Rue Marie Anne Gaboury in Bonnie Doon, Edmonton, Alberta which is the home to the French-language section of the University of Alberta, the Campus Saint-Jean.

The 1978 Canadian feature film Marie Anne tells a fictionalized story of “the first white woman in Western Canada.” (sourse:  Wikipedia –

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Northern Dancer…

The little horse that could…

northern dancer - imageNorthern Dancer, racehorse (b at Oshawa, Ont 27 May 1961; d at Chesapeake City, Md 16 Nov 1990). Bred at E.P. Taylor’s National Stud Farm, Northern Dancer was unsold as a yearling, but as a 2-year-old won the Remsen Stakes, NY, the Flamingo and Florida derbies, and the Summer Stakes, Coronation Futurity and Carleton Stakes in Canada. Northern Dancer was the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby (1964) and went on to win the Preakness, finish third in the Belmont and win the Queen’s Plate. Known for his stamina, Northern Dancer was also very fast – only Secretariat has bettered his Kentucky Derby record of 2 minutes flat for the 1-mile course. Retired to stud, Northern Dancer became the greatest stud horse in history. By the time of his death, 467 of his 635 registered foals had won races and over 150 had won stakes races.

E. P. Taylor shown with Northern  and H.R.H. Prince Philip discussing horses.
E. P. Taylor shown with Northern and H.R.H. Prince Philip discussing horses.

It took Northern Dancer exactly two minutes to become a national hero in Canada. That was how long it took the stocky, bay colt, ridden by Bill Hartack, to run the mile and one-quarter distance of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 1964, defeating Hill Rise by a neck. Not only was it one of the most thrilling stretch runs in Derby history at Louisville’s Churchill Downs, it was the fastest time in which the most famous horse race in the United States had been run, a record that was later surpassed by Secretariat in 1973.

The mayor of Toronto awarded him the key to the city, billboards acknowledged his feat, Canada’s sportswriters voted him Athlete of the Year and he was deluged with fan mail. Two weeks after the Derby, Northern Dancer won the second event of the Triple Crown, the Preakness at Pimlico. Three weeks later, attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation in 1948, he finished a tired third in the Belmont Stakes at Aqueduct, N.Y. Returning to Woodbine, Northern Dancer won the Queen’s Plate, which would turn out to be the last race of his career. A bowed tendon prompted trainer Horatio Luro to stop the racing career of the son of NearcticNatalma. He would be named Canada’s Horse of the Year and the top 3-year-old in North America.

In winning 14 of his 18 career starts, Northern Dancer proved wrong the potential buyers who had rejected him as a yearling because he was too small. Bred by E. P. Taylor, the colt was put up for sale with a $25,000 price tag with Taylor’s other yearlings. When the colt was not sold he became a part of Windfields Farm’s racing stable. As a 2-

Windfields Farm,, Oshawa, Ontario.
Windfields Farm,, Oshawa, Ontario.

year-old, he won seven times and was second twice in nine starts. His victories included the Summer Stakes at Fort Erie, the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine, the Carleton Stakes at Greenwood and the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The Remsen win established Northern Dancer as a horse to watch in the Triple Crown races, which he confirmed in March of his 3-year-old season by winning the Flamingo Stakes in Florida, becoming the first Canadian-bred to win a $100,000 race. He then won the Florida Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland before his Derby, Preakness and Plate victories.

As a stallion, Northern Dancer has proven to be even greater at stud than he was on the racetrack. By 2000 and the dawn of a new millenium, the Dancer’s worldwide influence on the breeding industry was unparalleled and considered by horsemen as the greatest of the 20th century. His offspring have gone on to make millions; he is the sire of innumerable champions on four continents; one of his yearlings sold for a world-record $10.2 million; he has fathered 146 stakes winners (including Danzig, Sadler’s Wells, who sired some 190 stakes winners himself, The Minstrel, Storm Bird, Lyphard, Nuryvev, Vice Regent and Nijinsky II) and late in life, at the advanced age of 21, would attract a bona fide offer of $40 million from a French syndicate. In 2004 all 18 starters in Europe’s most famous race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, had Northern Dancer’s blood in their pedigrees.

Foaled on May 27, 1961, at Taylor’s farm in Oshawa, the Dancer initially stood at stud at Windfields in 1965 for a fee of $10,000. His incredible sire statistics were unheard of and in 1968 he was shipped to Taylor’s farm in Maryland. Leading sire in both England and North America, his blood was so intensely sought after that his stud fee soared to over $1 million in 1981. His 14 yearlings in 1984 averaged an astounding $3.3 million at auction. The Dancer was pensioned in 1987 and died on Nov. 16, 1990, at age 29 at Windfields’ Maryland property. He was buried at Windfields in Oshawa.

In 2013, a collection of memorabilia, trophies and photographs belonging to E. P. Taylor and Windfields Farm, including significant trophies won by Northern Dancer, were provided by the Taylor family to the Canadian Museum of History.

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Save the Bala Falls

“If we let it happen here, it can happen anywhere…”

Beautiful and historic Bala Falls, visited by the Canadian explorer David Thompson in 1837 - on his way to discover a North West passage.
Beautiful and historic Bala Falls, visited by the Canadian explorer David Thompson in 1837 – on his way to discover a North West passage.

A new perspective this week.

This is the story of a David-and-Goliath-struggle to save a precious community resource. The ‘David’ in this case is the residents of a small community in Northern Ontario, and the ‘Goliath’ is the might of their own Provincial Government being used against them for profit.

Bala is a Canadian community famous for the Bala Falls. It is located in Muskoka Lakes Township in Ontario, where Lake Muskoka empties into the Moon River. It is considered one of the hubs of cottage country located north of Toronto. Thus, its year-round population of several hundred is increased by thousands of seasonal residents and weekend day-trippers during summer months. It is known as the Cranberry Capital of Ontario, as the province’s largest cranberry farms, Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Wahta Iroquis Growers, are located nearby.

Why it matters

Carved out of the Canadian Shield, Bala Falls is located at the west end of Lake Muskoka (approximately two hours north of Toronto) where the lake’s waters spill into Moon River and eventually into Georgian Bay. Part of an important cultural landscape, the falls are a physical landmark that define Bala’s identity and which are central to its recreational and tourism-based economy. The historically important Portage Landing on the north side of Burgess Island has been a portage point for First Nations and later for the community of Bala, tourists, YM-YWCA campers and cottagers. The landmark boat livery business, Purks Place has operated continuously since 1906. It is historically interconnected with the portage landing on the west of Burgess Island for water access to Moon River. The only other structure on Burgess Island is the Stone Church, designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Why it’s endangered

In December 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources released an RFP for the development of a hydroelectric generating station on approximately one hectare of Crown land adjacent to Bala’s north dam as part of the province’s green energy program. Swift River Energy Ltd (SREL) proposes to build a 4-5 megawatt run-of-river water power facility that will include:


the excavation of an approach channel immediately above Bala’s North dam; the installation of an intake and a concrete powerhouse structure abutting the north Bala falls; a tailrace channel to return water to the Moon River some 40 metres from the base of the North dam’s waterfall.

Community concerns are focused on the conservation of the natural features of the falls central to Bala’s identity and its natural resources (water and water flow, foraging and spawning habitat for fish and invertebrate species, and identified heritage trees) as well as its cultural features. Concern is also focused on potential damage to the Stone Church related to blasting shock and vibration.

What you can do

Listen to the following summary, and then visit to “Save Bala Falls” website. From there it is up to you, but please support the people of Bala in any way you can.

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Thank you