Saturday, 17 March 2012

When the Doctor Came to Labrador


When the Doctor Came to Labrador
By Annalydia Hall—Age 14.
From Everyland magazine, October 1918, digitized by Doug Frizzle, March 2012.

A DESCENDANT of Sir Richard Grenville! Do you wonder that Wilfred Grenfell had something implanted in his soul that made him differ from the common roll of men and made him feel that there was something for him ''besides hanging out his sign in a city where there were already doctors and to spare"?
So in 1892 we find Dr. Grenfell cruising about the deep fiords and rocky islands of Labrador in his hospital-ship Albert, ministering to the poor fishermen of that region, bringing relief to those, who but for him would have had no intelligent care. By these he was thought some strange, big-hearted madman. He cared nothing for treacherous winds or unknown tides and currents. His boat was capsized, swamped, blown on the rocks, driven out to sea. But did that deter him for a moment?
One of his most terrible experiences was caused by the ice floes. Hastening over a frozen arm of the sea on his dog sledge to bring aid to a sick lad Dr. Grenfell found himself on a detached ice floe—adrift on an ice-pan. Soon night came on with such intense cold that the doctor was forced to sacrifice three of his dogs and clothe himself in their skins. At daylight, with the dog bones as a pole, Dr. Grenfell raised a flag of distress—his gaily-colored shirt. At last when he was wearied almost to death, his hands and feet frozen, and his brain befogged, he was discovered by some rude fishermen, who tenderly conveyed him to the hospital. "Sure the Lord must keep an eye on that man," declared an old skipper devoutly.
Some 30,000 men were without medical aid prior to 1892. Dr. Grenfell not only brought them aid for hurt bodies but for stunted minds and souls as well. He established schools, missions, churches, hospitals, orphan asylums, gymnasiums, and libraries. He established industries such as lumbering and ship building, that the fishermen might not be ill during the cold months. He set up cooperative stores run for the sole benefit of the fishermen. He introduced the reindeer from Lapland and thus greatly added to the resources of the country just as Sheldon Jackson did for Alaska.
All in all, the seeds of the now widespread civilization of Labrador were implanted by Dr. Wilfred Grenfell.
Over the entrance of "his" hospital is this motto, "Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love." I think this might be taken as the motto of Dr. Grenfell's life. It was love for his fellow-man—in other words his love for Christ— that led him to enter "that service of perfect freedom, the service of the King of kings."

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.