Red Ensign


I have been given a digital transfer of a short film taken in 1928 on board the Duchess of Bedford.  According to your site, she sailed to Canada on June 1, 1928, and from Montreal and Quebec the same month on her first return voyage to the U.K.  The film was likely taken on her return trip.  The film was labeled September, however.  If that's accurate, which I have some reason to doubt, it would have been the September 7th departure.

The adults pictured are, among others, Dr. Donald Thomas Fraser, a research fellow at the Connaught Labs, his wife Mary (Shenstone) Fraser, and Donald and Nancy, their two children.  Don is 7, his sister 5.  Both children are still alive and well.    Don is now 87, his sister 85, so the film is 80 years old this year.  In fact, this is the Duchess of Bedford's eightieth anniversary.

Dr. Fraser was traveling with famous Canadian physician and Nobel Prize recipient, part of the duo who discovered insulin in 1921, Dr. Charles Best, and his wife Margaret.  Fraser and Best were heading to Garches, outside Paris, to confer with Dr. Gaston Ramon of the Pasteur Institute on work in which they all shared an interest. It was a sabbatical for Dr. Fraser.  Part of my doubt as to the date of the film revolves around the fact that this was a Summer trip for the Fraser family and involved some traveling in Europe.  Everyone here is dressed warmly, however.  Perhaps the date is accurate.

The film is a .dv file.  I can make it available to you if you are interested.  It's gigantic, almost half a Gb, and will take a long time to download.  The Duchess of Bedford features only as a location.  Little of the ship is visible.  I've attached frames as an indication of what's there. Click here to view the 22 frames

Best wishes

David Fleury

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L-R, Donald and Nancy Fraser, unknown woman, Margaret Best, Dr. Charles Best.  Stylish hats.

L-R, Donald and Nancy Fraser, unknown woman, Margaret Best, Dr. Charles Best.  Stylish hats.

Margaret and Charley Best

Margaret and Charley Best

Dr. Donald Fraser

Dr. Donald Fraser

"Charles Herbert Best, just a few weeks after receiving an Honours Baccalaureate in Physiology and Chemistry, jumped at the chance for a summer's work with Dr. Frederick Banting. It was a classic case of being at the right place at the right time. Less than three months later, Best's name was known throughout the medical world, and he had not even begun his medical studies. During the research at the University of Toronto, Banting did the surgical work and Best followed with the chemical assays, and with Collip the purification of the chemical extracts. Sharing Banting's Nobel Prize, Best went on to complete doctorates in both medicine and physiology. As a professor of physiology at Toronto, he joined with Banting as a Director of the Banting and Best Institute, where he succeeded in isolating heparin, an effective ant-coagulant. After the Second World War, the Charles Best Institute, scene of further outstanding research, was established in his honour."