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Intro Sir Wilfred Grenfell IGA Lantern Slides Timeline Glossary


1884 Establishment of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fisherman (RNMDSF), a British evangelical medical mission to serve off-shore fisherman, especially in the North Sea. Official publication was The Toilers of the Deep, which included early Grenfell writings and photographs.


1891 Report by solicitor Francis Hopwood, Director with RNMDSF, depicting need for medical services in Labrador fisheries. Report based on visit to St. John’s and conversations with merchants and government officials.


1892 Visit by RNMDSF physician Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell, aboard the medical ship Albert to Labrador coast. Results in commitment by RNMDSF to extend activities to Newfoundland, with co-operation of Newfoundland committee.

1893 Establishment of seasonal hospitals at Battle Harbour and Indian Harbour, Labrador, served by Grenfell, 2 doctors and 2 nurses from RNMDSF.

1893 Canadian lecture tour by Grenfell (Halifax to Victoria) to raise monies and awareness for work in Labrador. Canadian missions established to support Grenfell’s work.


1893 Donation of steam launch Princess Mary, first of many small launches donated to serve on Labrador coast.


1894-5 Battle Harbour hospital remained open throughout winter months.

1895 Publication of Grenfell’s Vikings of Today, an illustrated depiction of medical work on the Labrador, first of Grenfell’s many books.


1896 Establishment of Red Bay Co-operative Store, first of the cooperative projects initiated by Grenfell.

1896 Mission hospital established at Harrington Harbour, Québec.

1897 Lecture tour by Grenfell to Boston and New York, commencing support from United States in monies, medical staff and volunteers.


1899 Donation of medical ship Strathcona by Sir Donald Smith. Strathcona equipped with X-ray, dispensary and emergency cots.

1900-1901 RNMDSF extended work to Northern Peninsula, with headquarters at St. Anthony. Establishment of a hospital which became centre of medical activities for mission. Organization of co-operatives at St. Anthony and Flower’s Cove. Sawmill, fox farm and bait freezer subsequently started at St. Anthony.

1903 Publication of Among the Deep Sea Fishers, an illustrated periodical of the Grenfell Mission’s activities. Ceased publication in1981.

1906 Opening of St. Anthony Orphanage, also called the Children’s Home. Replaced by new building in 1923.

1906 Establishment of Industrial Department at St. Anthony by Jessie Luther. Industrial works, with a focus on handicrafts, were intended as occupational therapy for patients, and as cash supplements to fishing families dependent on credit. Commencement of "Grenfell crafts" which were marketed internationally.

1907 Establishment of nursing station at Forteau, first of the Grenfell nursing stations.


1907 Grenfell’s reindeer experiment. Importation of reindeer from Lapland to St. Anthony, to supplement local diet. Experiment ended in 1918.

1907 Establishment of Grenfell Associations in New York and New England.

1908 Opening of kindergarten at St. Anthony, one of Grenfell’s non-denominational education experiments.

1909 Publication of Grenfell’s best-selling Adrift on the Ice, based on his near-death experience while responding to medical emergency in Hare Bay. Publicity generated by account greatly enhanced Grenfell’s reputation.


1909 Marriage to Anna MacClanahan, who became an active partner in his work, editing his publications and marketing the industrial products.


1912 Formal opening of the King George V Seamen’s Institute, St. John’s. Intended for the use of fishermen, it included a swimming pool, dining room, temperance bar, reading room, and separate quarters for outport girls. Management assumed by YMCA in the 1920s.

1914 Incorporation of the International Grenfell Association (IGA). Final connection with RNMDSF ended in 1934.


1915 Establishment of a cottage hospital by mission physician Dr. Harry Paddon at Northwest River, Labrador which remained open throughout winter following closure of Indian Harbour hospital. Paddon served as mission doctor in Labrador from 1912 to 1939.

1917 Establishment of Grenfell Enquiry (Squarey Commission) to investigate complaints that IGA unfairly portrayed Newfoundlanders as paupers and abused charitable status. Report vindicated IGA.


1925 Strathcona II replaces medical steamer Strathcona I, wrecked in October 1922.

1927 Opening of new St. Anthony Hospital, a steel and concrete structure which replaced the former wooden building.

1939 Death of Anna Grenfell.


1940 Death of Wilfred Grenfell on 9 October.