He Hailed from Carleton Place– Harold Box– The Forgotten Scientist?

He Hailed from Carleton Place– Harold Box– The Forgotten Scientist?


Gary Box-– “That’s actually Harold, Keith’s father. Harold’s middle name was Keith. I have never seen this photo”-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


Thanks to Gary Box for sending this story. With files from the Ottawa Citizen August 9th 1991.

You know — there is a lot to be proud about in Lanark county.  We have had many unsung heroes come from our area, and some we have never even heard about. I feel it is our mission to get the word out and document this online so future generations know it’s just not the maple syrup that Lanark County should be proud of.

I have written about Donald Cram whose mother once hailed from Carleton Place and his Nobel prize win. Now thanks to Gary Box I find out that another Carleton Place resident made huge waves in the medical field. In 1924 Dr. Forbes Godfrey the Ontario Health minister told the Canadian legislature that a genius scientist from Carleton Place had scored achievements that were equal to the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best. His name was Harold Box, born and raised in Carleton Place, and yet today his discoveries have all but been forgotten.

Similar to most people that are focused and driven Harold could have easily been named “the absent minded professor”. Caring and unassuming he could have easily turned his pioneering discoveries into financial fame and gain but he didn’t.  In the early days of dentistry if the tooth was doubtful they would just yank it out. Infection anywhere on the body was not widely understood, especially in dentistry where a bad tooth could be “the cause” of your kidney or liver problems-even arthritis. So Box decided to research inflamed gums and how it could be helped so there would very little tooth extraction needed.

He developed a cure for pyorrhea- an inflammatory condition  of the gums which caused the loosening of teeth from their sockets. In layman’s terms that would be: “a pink tooth brush” aka: bleeding gums. Of course with anything new the dentist was challenged by the head of the of peridontology at the Royal College of Dental Surgeons. After all it was- much easier to pull a tooth out that try and save it. But, as they say, “the truth is out there”—  and the periodontal authorities lauded his discovery. Harold Box from Carleton Place’s discoveries changed oral health forever.


Here is a picture of Harold and Graeme taken at his cottage on Mississippi Lake.

After 43 years working endless hours in the University of Toronto laboratory Harold Box died of a heart attack in 1956 at the age of 66. He still played ragtime piano and maintained his Lanark County roots. The ‘Prophet from Canada’ as the American press called him still painted sunsets of the Mississippi Lake and left an ‘exceptional’ family that were also doctors and dentists. Harold Box was noted as being too self-effacing, but still no excuse that his scientific genius is all but forgotten now. I was shocked when I “Googled” and searched that nothing was coming up for such an important man.

But, now he has been documented, and as long as the internet is around Harold Box from Carleton Place will now come up in “search” and Canadians, and especially Lanark County, will know how important he was.








Clipped from The Ottawa Journal26 May 1956, SatPage 5



Clipped from The Winnipeg Tribune01 Mar 1924, SatPage 20







Clipped from The Ottawa Journal02 Apr 1927, SatPage 2

Harold’s son



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 Oct 1959, TuePage 12



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal06 Aug 1924, WedPage 22

Related reading

Was a Boldt Castle Boathouse Once in our Midst? See the Home of the Daphne!

Donald Cram — Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Gary Box clipping

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

7 responses »

  1. Very interesting……Theresa Box (1833-1905) married Peter Cram (1826-1901) March 08, 1885 and had 10 children. Is this the the connection you wrote about? Probably not, but Theresa might be a grandmother or great grand mother.of Donald Cram. Theresa was the daughter of Alexander and Betsy Stacey Box.
    Thank you for writing about HKB……glad someone in CP has remembered him. Gary


    • Are you the Gary Box who got five H.K. Box paintings at Mary Henry auction in Sept.2018 in Carleton Place? Mary was my aunt, I am her youngest brother’s daughter and have a signed H.K. Box painting from Mississippi Lake! I was in CP on July 29/19 and went by 119 Bell Street. It was empty, Century 21 on Bridge St told me it sold in March 2019. I have been googling and saw there was auction and also saw comments by you and Graeme and Linda about getting paintings back in family. It would be great to connect, my parents are still alive! Dad is 90 and Mom is 88. Pls email me if you are the Gary Box with 5 paintings from Aunt Mary’s auction.


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