Thursday, March 24, 2016

St. Anthony -- In the Footsteps of Grenfell

St. Anthony Sunrise
Travel down the Great Northern Peninsula (yes, north is "down" here) and you'll find yourself in St. Anthony, the outpost at the end of the road. To be truthful, the road has only been here for sixty years or so; like many small towns around the coast of Newfoundland, this port was once served only by water, as a stop on the coastal boats that plied the island's shores. This community of roughly 2500 people serves as a supply centre for the surrounding area, so there are grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and many other services, but it's St. Anthony's history that makes it remarkable.

Sun Porch, Grenfell House
In 1892, a young and determined doctor arrived here from England; this was then an English colony, and the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen carried out visits to bring medical care to the people of northern Newfoundland and the Labrador coast, and Dr. Wilfred Grenfell was here to do what he could for his fellow man. He was ahead of his time in realizing that social conditions, nutrition and physical activity were all part of overall health, and he went on to form an organization to raise funds to provide health services in the region. His legacy lives on the present-day health care system serving St. Anthony and the remote coastal communities of Labrador. The International Grenfell Association's headquarters were in St. Anthony and it was here that Grenfell made his home. One of my own favourite aspects of his house is the warm and welcoming sun room that wraps around it.

The View from Tea House Hill
Today, the Grenfell Historic Properties provide an opportunity to learn about this remarkable man through the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, the restored house, and the Tea House Hill Trail which provides wonderful views of the surrounding area. From the Grenfell Dock, Northland Discovery Boat Tours provide whale-watching and iceberg-viewing opportunities with expert interpretation. This area boasts one of the longest iceberg seasons in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as frequent sightings of humpback whales and dolphins and even occasional pods of killer whales!

Iceberg Near St. Anthony
St. Anthony's harbour is a busy one, with a fleet of fishing boats, processing plants, and a large wharf that accommodates vessels carrying freight. Several times a summer, small expedition cruise ships visit to take in the sights in the area.

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