I would like recognize the larger than life man who made big things happen in small communities – Sir Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, born February 28th, 1865. It’s been 150 years since the birth of such a visionary!
Since 1892, Dr. Grenfell has impacted the lives of those on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission, which provided the first permanent medical services throughout the region. It established the first hospital in Battle Harbour (the unofficial capital of Labrador).
In addition to advancing the medical administration, headquartered in St. Anthony, the mission worked to make social changes and reduce poverty through advancing education, agriculture, textiles and industrial projects. A number of schools were built, a lumber mill was established in 1908 in Canada Bay to create year-round employment, farms developed and co-operatives created to reduce the reliance of merchants and their crippling credit-system for fishers.
To stimulate industrial development, mission workers also organized the local handicraft industry enabling residents to sell hooked mats, knitted goods and other items at North American retail outlets. People would save their silk stockings and send them to Labrador or the Great Northern Peninsula for the women to make and sell Grenfell hooked rugs. There is great pride taken in displaying the Grenfell rug which the handicraft group has been proudly producing for a century! There is also the Grenfell cloth, making the traditional “Grenfell” coats people proudly wear in the 21st century.
There are many legacy pieces that remain with the International Grenfell Association with more than 100 years of activity and giving back to local causes in the form of education and community development. The Grenfell Memorial Co-op is 101 years and counting and the Interpretation Centre displays a collection of books, medical supplies and other records that attracts thousands. The hospital and outer buildings signal the impact the administration had on the local economy and society.
Dr. Grenfell received many honours in medicine, in academia and medallions. Today Memorial University -Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook is named after the legendary figurehead. As well, the Route 432 on the Great Northern Peninsula is named Grenfell Drive.
I get inspired when I think and learn about more about the undertakings of Dr. Grenfell. He is one of my role models, as he had a vision to diversify an economy, empower individuals and meet the needs of people serving so many communities. The Great Northern Peninsula is a better place because of him, he has created quite the legacy.
Dr. Grenfell is a household name on the Great Northern Peninsula and Newfoundland and Labrador. More must be down to recognize the significance of his work, the role he played and how the influence of one man forever changed the fabric of the Great Northern Peninsula. His vision had radically changed and developed the economy and the way we think – we know that more is possible because he gave us hope! Let’s keep building on Doctor Grenfell’s vision!
Happy 150th Birthday, you truly deserve the recognition!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Holiday season is to be spent with loved ones. Sometimes they are not always with us in a physical sense, but are in our hearts.
This Christmas will be the 12th on celebrated without my father. He is still present and ever remembered. I will not forget all the times we would spend together searching for that freshly cut Christmas tree. My father would take extra care in trimming some of the branches. Not to mention drilling holes and filling spaces it branches. Our tree had to be very full of life! As a family we all had a part in the decorating. It was tradition. Over time that has changed as we have an artificial tree, which certainly does not have the same appeal but does the job. It is now my time to string the lights (something I never wanted to do as a child, guess it is part of growing).
I remember hanging lights outside. My father would give me the task of organizing all the lights, creating a pattern of red, green, yellow, blue. It was a challenge with all the bulbs that needed replacing and having to use a potatoe or vaseline sometimes to remove them. My father trusted me and as a team we would get those lights up all around the house. Last year I gave up on the old strings and started buying some LED lights (still multi-coloured, of course) and have added again this year. They are up hanging with plastic clips. I smile as there are remains of staples on some shingles (reminding me of assisting dad) :).
We always delivered presents on Christmas Eve, ate pizza at my aunt and uncle’s house and went to church late at night before leaving milk and cookies for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer. Christmas morning after opening our presents would be spent with grandma and grandpa opening their gifts.
Times have changed as my mom usually works Christmas Eve, so I am typically tasked with delivering presents (sometimes with my sister). This year my aunt and uncle will spend Christmas Eve with their kids and grandkids away, so no pizza with them. It has been several years since we all attended church service or even spent Christmas together as a family. As well, my grandpa passed away this year.
This year 2010, my sister and her husband will be home for the holidays. For me it is my first time since 2006 and long overdue. We will create new traditions, while hanging on to some old ones, which include the lunch for Santa!
Think about your Christmas times with friends and families, old traditions and new ones! It is just two weeks and change away….so enjoy! Make new memories today, tomorrow and always.
From Live Rural NL – CCM