Tuesday, 12 May 2015

St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats

2013_NL_F18_0007St. Anthony sits at the top of the Great Northern Peninsula. Growing up, I read stories about Sir Wilfred Grenfell, who was based in St. Anthony. Grenfell came to Newfoundland from England to establish a medical mission to serve the peninsula, as well as eastern Labrador. I had never been to St. Anthony before, and I decided it was high time to go have a look.

In the morning, we wanted to go out on a boat tour and see an iceberg that we had heard was parked just off shore. However, the first tour out that morning was full, so while we waited for the second tour, we went up to the Grenfell House to have a look.

Grenfell's medical mission, established in 1893, brought doctors, nurses, hospitals, and visiting clinics to people who had no formal medical care. The mission also built schools, lumber mills, community farms, co-operative stores, and a commercial handicraft industry. The mission lasted until 1981 when it was taken over by the Newfoundland government.

The mission had a huge impact on people's lives in this part of the province. Grenfell was revered and held high stature. So I was not surprised to see that his house in St. Anthony is larger than a traditional outport house. It is larger, but not ostentatious. It has the same double-hung windows, the same clapboard siding, and the same salt box style that you would see on most houses in small, rural Newfoundland communities. The house was designed by Ash & Sons from Carbonear, and was finished in 1910.

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On the inside, the house bears little resemblance to a regular outport home. The house's size allows for some very large rooms, which I imagine were a perfect size for the Grenfell's social gatherings and meetings.

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There were also servant-specific rooms.

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The house is filled with artifacts from the Grenfell era, such as dishes.

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There are also odd items, like this berry picker.

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For me, the most impressive part of the house was the enclosed porch. I would love to have something like this on my house, especially during the miserable periods of Newfoundland weather. It would be wonderful to be able to sit in relative warmth, yet be bathed in soft light, and sip a nice cup of hot chocolate while either chatting with friends or reading a book.

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A trail starts from the rear of the house and goes up the hill to where a tea house used to stand. In place of the tea house, now long gone, is a look-out platform that affords a great view of the harbour.

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The harbour is more commercial than that of either Twillingate or Fogo. Those communities have more of an in-shore fishery, whereas St. Anthony has the much larger vessels of the off-shore fishery.

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That's not so say there is no in-shore fishery operating out of St. Anthony. There are plenty of sheds and wharves geared to the smaller vessels...

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... but the larger ships really captured my attention, maybe because they were fully equipped with the latest gear, looking more like a factory than a fishing vessel.

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I was very surprised to see that some of the ships even had bulbous noses. While these designs allow for a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency, they are not cheap to build.

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Seeing that fishermen are investing in the latest gear and the latest designs makes me hopeful that they are finally taking a longer view of their craft, and will be able to avoid the short-sightedness that led to the collapse of the cod fishery.

As the cod stocks rebuild, the crab fishery provides a much needed source of income.

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While the larger, flashier, off-shore vessels are a very important part of the local economy, it is the gritty in-shore fishery that appeals to both my heart and my eye. Perhaps because the in-shore gear always reflects the brute-force struggle between man and nature.

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Here is a list of links to posts about my trip to St. Anthony:
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!

Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!
St. Anthony: Ice, Ice, Baby!
Red Bay: A World Heritage Site
Mary's Harbour


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