The Grenfell Centre, St. Anthony, NL commemorates the life and legacy of the legendary Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. Since 1892, Dr. Grenfell has impacted the lives of those on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission, which the first permanent medical services throughout the region.
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!
I’ve purchased a membership to the Grenfell Centre and encourage residents and visitors to drop by to visit the Centre and the Grenfell Handicrafts shop.
Grenfell rugs, carvings, labradorite rings, books, pendants, necklaces, paintings, prints, embroidered hand crafted items, apparel, knitted items and a variety of other local souvenirs stock their shelves. I love dropping by to purchase locally made and handcrafted products. Some of their knitted goods went to Europe with me on my most recent vacation to give my friends a little piece of something from “the Rock”. If you are a local craft producer, you should look at having your product offered at this location. It’s so important to support and buy local products, as they have the greatest impact on the local economy.
Now 100 years later, the International Grenfell Association continues to promote the initiatives surrounding community economic development, health and education started by Grenfell and his believers that the people of the North should have access to these vital services and be masters of their own destiny. Many of the projects started are still in existence a century later, and others could stimulate new ideas and be re-visited to pursue economic opportunities for the people of the North.
The Grenfell Historical Society and Grenfell Handicrafts should be proud of their achievements. Let’s keep building for the next century!
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA
Today, I was looking back through some photos I had recently taken and this one happened to get my attention..a loving family that sits on my constituency office desk in St. Anthony.
Carol Roberts of St. Anthony is a fiber artist. She works with wool product and other textiles to create. Thank you Carol for sharing your talent with me. The concept of spinning wool on the Great Northern Peninsula has only been lost by a few recent generations. The spinning wheel would be found in some early settler homes as they would create their own home spun sheep’s wool to make knitted stockings and other articles of clothing.
This summer Ms. Roberts along with a friend had taken a spinning wheel and started introducing new people to the process at Grenfell Heritage Days this past July. This is an exciting step because we have incredibly talented people in the region that are interested in small-scale craft production. There is opportunity to network, take workshops and make and sell product. I personally would like to see a craft co-operative established.
Rural sustainability is built on our ability to utilize the resources and enhance our skill set to get best value from them. There is opportunity for more raising of sheep in the District, selling and carding of wool and the creation of unique wool products that are of high-value, such as the items depicted above. If you like Ms. Roberts’ felted family or other products, many are available at Grenfell Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre in St. Anthony.
Is a fiber arts or textile festival something to consider for the future on the Great Northern Peninsula?
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
More developments in Conche, NL according to News Release:
P.O. Box 29, Conche, NL A0K 1Y0
Tele: 709-622-3500 Fax: 709-622-3510
For Immediate Release Contact: Joan Simmonds/Colleen McLean 709-622-3500
THE FRENCH SHORE HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO LAUNCH
THE CENTRE FOR TEXTILE ART
CONCHE, NL ———- On July 26, 2011 the French Shore Historical Society will officially open a Centre for Textile Art. The purpose of the Centre will be to encourage the art of handmade textile crafts and to promote the art and history of textile-based traditions, especially of the Northern Peninsula. The Centre will focus on the historical textile development of northern Newfoundland by acquiring, preserving and making accessible a research collection of textiles and relevant documents. It will sponsor exhibitions, conferences, symposia, oral history projects, publications, fellowships and grant funded initiatives.
Since its founding in 2000, the French Shore Historical Society has showcased textile work by craftspeople in the region, including exhibitions of hooked rugs, knitting, embroidery, and included textile objects in its permanent exhibit. It has sponsored several workshops on textile art and in 2009 added the unique French Shore Tapestry, embroidered by women from Conche, as a major part of its exhibit.
In 2010, as a foundation for developing the centre, a research project was undertaken by the French Shore Historical Society in partnership with the Port au Choix – St. Anthony Regional Council of the Rural Secretariat. The purpose of the research was to document the traditional craft skills on the Great Northern Peninsula, with particular attention to crafts using or creating textiles. An inventory of the research, done by Memorial University student Lisa Wilson, can be accessed by visiting the MUN Digital Archives Initiatives.
In the Fall of 2010 a steering committee was created and consists of:
Anne Manual – Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador
Barb Hunt- Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook
Brenda Stratton – Dept. of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
Candace Cochrane – Quebec Labrador Foundation
Denise White – Dept. of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
Gerry Pocius – Memorial University of Newfoundland
Joan Simmonds – French Shore Historical Society
Lisa Wilson – MUN Research Student
Nina Mitchelmore – Regional Planner for Rural Secretariat
Susan Furneaux – College of the North Atlantic
The French Shore Historical Society is a non-profit organization founded to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the communities of Conche , Croque, Grand Oies/St. Julien’s and Main Brook on the Northeast coast of Newfoundland. The FSHS has successfully managed many projects which have created great economic benefits, employment opportunities, and great tourism potential on the Great Northern Peninsula.
The Opening will be a Basket Weaving Workshop with Helga Gillard . Funding was provided by the International Grenfell Association through fundraising efforts of the French Shore Historical Society.