Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wilfred Grenfell: A Victor on The Field of Honor

I had to make a pilgrimage to the Grenfell Properties here in St. Anthony because the work of Wilfred Grenfell back in 1898 to build a hospital on Battle Harbour and to serve the coast on a hospital ship and then to expand his clinics to other communities and to build a headquarters in St. Anthony all contributed to the clinic at Mary's Harbour which provided the care that has restored my eye to almost new. The main infection is gone but some blurryness continues to slow my journey. These ailments probably led to sight problems for fishermen until Grenfell came along.

"Life is a field of honor," he said.

Grenfell is the man seated on the right. I think the lesson here is that although he was limited by location and resources he still provided the best care that was possible at that time. He was also a social activist as he broke the savage Truck system of economy and taught self-sufficience and economy and fairness. I bought a piece of pecan pumpkin pie at the Grenfell Memorial Co-Op grocery that was delicious even if it was expired and on sale for half price.
T.B. and Beri Beri and Scurvy and a variety of diseases were his main enemies and these he bravely fought against in addition to the common ailments of infected eyes and broken limbs. He basically did what he was able to do and when he needed help he enlisted volunteers and raised funds. He didn't expect anything from his charges that he didn't expect from himself. By the look of it, his mere presence inspired greatness in others.

I want to tribute Moody, Watch and Spy because these were part of the dog team that led the way across the pack ice from St. Anthony when he went on an emergency call.

Lady Grenfell (Anne) is holding the black dog on the left. I don't know what the fourth dog's name is but Moody, Watch and Spy should go down in the dog hall of fame because not only did they venture out on many trips with the doctor, but they went out with him on an ill-advised trip and the pack ice broke apart mid way across the bay and they drifted into the bay and would surely have all died but Wilfred decided to sacrifice old Moody and Watch and Spy, killing them, and making a coat of their skins and a wall of their bones until he was spotted by a fisherman on the other coast and rescued along with the surviving dogs. Grenfell made up a huge bronze plaque to the memory of these three dogs so he didn't kill them lightly. Dog team dogs were treated well and their memory is preserved in the Grenfell House here in St. Anthony.

This lesson is hard to define because The Doctor was noble in his effort and risked his own life and the lives of his dogs for a sick patient. But it's the cause and the honor that Grenfell understood. He said, "When faced with two options, choose the most venturesome." So, he went onto the pack ice. The adventure later served to make him internationally famous and aided his fundraising efforts.

He also said,

"It is men who take ventures who make the world. It is courage the world needs...launch out into deep waters. Half measures, trimming the shore in shallow waters, never pays anything."

Here's a picture to demonstrate that bit of wisdom.

Canada owes much to Sir W.T. Grenfell and I owe him my right eye.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.