Sir Wilfred Grenfell

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Sir Wilfred Grenfell

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  • Wilfred T. Grenfell
  • Dr. Grenfell

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Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1865-1940) was born in Parkgate, England was the fourth son of a Church of England minister. Grenfell was educated at the University of London and Oxford University. In 1883 he joined the London Hospital to begin medical studies. Inspired by the American evangelist D.L. Moody, whose basic ideology was that religion was expressed through services rendered to mankind, Grenfell began his personal mission. After completing his medical training, Grenfell joined the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. In 1892, Grenfell volunteered to go to Newfoundland and Labrador to determine the need for mission services there. While there he was astounded by the poverty and disease he saw and treated 900 people with whom he gained a good reputation. A local committee in St. John's was put in place to raise money for Grenfell's return, as well, Grenfell toured Europe to accumulate financial aid for medical facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Upon his return in 1893 a hospital was established in Battle Harbour and a second at Indian Harbour. Grenfell spent the next few years travelling the coast of Labrador aiding the residents, and touring Canada, the United States and England. He returned to the North Sea in 1896 at the request of the Mission and returned again to Labrador in 1899. Grenfell's work began to extend beyond medical services and he oversaw the construction of many hospitals, orphanages, nursing stations, and co-operative societies. As well, he recruited medical personnel and volunteer workers to come to Labrador. In 1909 Wilfred Grenfell married Anne McClanahan. In 1912 The International Grenfell Association was formed for better regulation of the Mission, Grenfell was made superintendent of this association. Following this appointment, Grenfell spent most of his time raising funds for Labrador in other countries. Grenfell's health began to fail in the 1920's and he retired to Vermont in 1935. He made his last trip to Labrador in 1939, following his wife's death to spread her ashes on Fox Farm Hill overlooking St. Anthony. Grenfell died two years later, in 1941. His ashes were brought to Labrador and spread next to his wife's, a boulder nearby bears their names with the inscription "Life is a field of honor".

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