GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord

Quebec Lower North Shore GenWeb


Le GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord est une composante du GenWeb du Québec et du Canada GenWeb.

The Lower North Shore GenWeb is part of the Quebec GenWeb and the Canada GenWeb Projects.


Grenfell of Labrador and the Quebec Lower North Shore

By Sharon Chubbs-Ransom


Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, known to people on both sides of the Atlantic as “Dr Grenfell or ‘Grenfell of Labrador’, was born on 28 February 1865, at Mostyn House School, Park Gate by Chester, England. He was a robust boy growing up, never happier then when he was fishing or boating on the river near his home.


He became a doctor and for some years was doctor and chaplain to the fishermen in the “Deep Sea Fishers” mission of the North Sea. In 1892, with the support of the “Mission to Deep Sea Fishers”, he began what would become his life’s work. He set out to bring health care to the coastal fishermen and liveyers along the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts and part of the Quebec coast then known as the Canadian Labrador. Dr. Grenfell was not alone in his endeavors. Many other doctors, nurses and other professionals served with the same life long commitment. Rarely heard of names such as Dr. A. Witherington, Dr. Aspland, Dr. H. Mather Hare, Dr. Donald G. Hodd, and people like Dorothy Jupp, Ella Hewitt, Mrs Keddie and Ms. Dorothy Tucker gave years of their life to the Mission’s work, both on the Labrador Coast and the Quebec Lower North Shore.


In the summer of 1900, Dr. Grenfell made his first trip along the Canadian Labrador stopping in most of the fishing villages from Blanc Sablon to Kegaska. These were summer fishing spots for many Newfoundlanders in their annual migration, following the famous cod sculls to the Labrador. In 1905, Grenfell built a Nursing Station at Mutton Bay. In 1906, the Grenfell Mission began the building of the first hospital at Harrington Harbour. It was a wooden structure and according to the “Among the Deep Sea Fishers”, “built in a hurry and badly planned”. It was a high wooden framed building on a rocky island four miles off the coast. Buffeted by wind and snow it stood, nevertheless, for forty-two years, as a monument of compassion and service. This hospital for its’ first years of operation was run by the very competent hand of Dr. Mather Hare from Nova Scotia, Canada. Dr Hare arrived in 1905 to supervise the building and give care to the people. He did his clinics from a “leaney” attached to a fisherman’s house. He traveled up and down the Coast by dog team and boat ministering to the medical needs of these hardy souls. He left in 1915 and was followed by a succession of other doctors like Dr. West, Dr. Yates and Dr. Frost and according to Dr. Hodd even a “fake doctor” for one summer. By the time Dr. Hodd arrived in 1926 “the place was beginning to get pretty rundown”. In 1947, an appeal began throughout the Mission for a new hospital at Harrington to replace the old wooden building.


In May of 1949 excitement reigned in Harrington as the “Cluett” arrived with the first shipload of building material for the new hospital. In January 1950, the new building was complete and the last inspection carried out amid excitement and great satisfaction. The new hospital was an imposing presence for anyone arriving at Harrington. It was a most wonderful sight for the many people who traveled there for medical treatment, even though it meant pain and long stretches of time away from family. The compassion shown by doctors such as Dr. Hare, West, Curry, Hodd, Tooton, and nurses such as Mayeau, Thompson, Hewitt, Stockley and Jenkins will always be remembered.


Sharon Chubbs-Ransom, the fourth generation to work for the Grenfell, worked at Harrington Hospital the summer of 1970. It was a wonderful summer of new experiences and friendships lasting a lifetime. Witnessing her first birth and her first death were new life growth experiences. The honour of being a member of the Dr. Hodd team cannot be adequately described in words.


The fall of 1970, his life’s work complete, Dr. Hodd retired after forty-four years of service on the Quebec Lower North Shore. Gradually the Quebec government took over the running of the hospital and eventually the phasing out of the Grenfell service to be replaced with a nursing clinic and a senior citizens long term care facility. The Dr. D. G. Hodd Pavilion provides the same compassionate service today as the Grenfell Mission provided over the pass near one hundred years. The D. G. Hodd Pavilion stands as a monument to the many Grenfell doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly to bring the Coast people a good health care system.


Date entered on the Web: 13 March 2005



Back to the Homepage / Retour à la page d'accueil


Thank you to the previous coordinators, Sharon Ransom and Marc-André Gosselin, for their excellent work !
We are looking forward to reading your suggestions and comments. / Il nous fera plaisir de lire vos suggestions et commentaires.

Dernière mise à jour: 13/10/2016

© Quebec GenWeb 1997-2016


Suzette Leclair, Provincial Coordinator, Quebec GenWeb Project