Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Doctor on a dogsled

St Anthony, NL – Mother Nature smiled on us again today, holding off her watery blessings until our day was over, and then gently washing off our dusty car.

We are now near the northern tip of Newfoundland, just seven kilometers outside of St Anthony, in a large RV park with lots of other campers. It wasn’t a long drive today from St Barbe, but it was a pleasant one along the coastal road, with the blue-grey outline of the Labrador coast visible across the Strait of Belle Isle from us.
A string of small coves and villages dot this road with quaint names such as Deadmans Cove, Nameless Cove, and Flowers Cove. Dozens of woodpiles stand along the highway, with logs neatly stacked in rows when they’re cut, or standing like teepees when they’re not.

Also along the road we passed small garden plots, enclosed within low wooden fences, far from any private property. “Why clear your land when a road crew has already turned the topsoil on a sheltered, inland plot?” asks a tourist brochure, describing these odd sights.
After lunch, we headed into St Anthony with the car to book a boat tour that would take us out to see the icebergs up close, but the office was closed when we arrived. That gave us a bit of time to kill before it opened again, and we just happened to be next to the Grenfell Historic Properties, so we stopped in.

Standing by the main door of the building is a statue of Dr Wilfred Grenfell, dressed in a fur-trimmed anorak and carrying his black bag. Around here, he is a great hero who brought medical aid, humanitarian assistance, education and economic improvements to people in Labrador who suffered from abject poverty, malnutrition and disease in the early 1900s.
I didn’t know anything about Dr Grenfell, but the museum dedicated to his legacy certainly opened my eyes. Born and educated in England, he studied medicine but was not a stellar student. His spirit of adventure was sparked by time spent with British deep sea fishermen who were looking for medical support.

When he heard about the great need for medical services in Labrador, his spirit of adventure was piqued.  He was also inspired to a life of service by a preacher. He decided to do what Jesus would have done if he were a doctor, and this mission suited him well.
In addition to the museum about his life, the Historic Properties included Dr Grenfell’s home. It was fascinating to learn about his enthusiasm and devotion for the people of Labrador, and the hardships he endured while traveling through ice and snow to reach them. He also wrote dozens of books and worked tirelessly to raise funds for schools and hospitals here.

For dinner this evening, we drove to St Lunaire-Griquet where a restaurant called The Daily Catch was offering fresh lobster – with the lobster season nearing its close, we couldn’t pass up the chance for a good feed. It was delicious.

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