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.
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.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 26 May 1956, Sat, Page 5
Clipped from The Winnipeg Tribune, 01 Mar 1924, Sat, Page 20
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 02 Apr 1927, Sat, Page 2
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 13 Oct 1959, Tue, Page 12
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 06 Aug 1924, Wed, Page 22