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A Labrador Doctor - The Autobiography of Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
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Whatever sins Labrador has been guilty of, Malthusianism is not in the category. Nowhere are there larger families. Those of Quebec Labrador, which is better known, are of almost world-wide fame. God is, to Labrador thinking, the Giver of all children. Man's responsibility is merely to do the best he can to find food and clothing for them. A man can accomplish only so much. If these "gifts of God" suffer and are a burden to others that is kismet. It is the animal philosophy and makes women's lives on this coast terribly hard. The opportunity for service along child-welfare lines is therefore not surprising from this angle also.

One day, passing a group of islands, we anchored in a bight known as Rogues' Roost. It so happened that a man who many years before had shot off his right arm, and had followed up his incapacity with a large family of dependants, had just died. Life cannot be expected to last long in Labrador under those conditions. There were four children, one being a big boy who could help out. The rest were offered as a contribution to the Mission. A splendid Newfoundland fisherman and his wife had a summer fishing station here, and with that generous open-heartedness which is characteristic of our seafarers, they were only too anxious to help. "Of course, she would make clothing while I was North"—out of such odd garments as a general collection produced. "She wouldn't think of letting them wear it till I came along South, not she." She would "put them in the tub as soon as she heard our whistle." When after the long summer's work we landed and went up to her little house, three shining, red, naked children were drying before a large stove, in which the last vestige of connection with their past was contributing its quota of calories toward the send-off. A few minutes later we were off to the ship with as sweet a batch of jolly, black-haired, dark-eyed kiddies as one could wish for. Our good friend could not keep back the tears as she kissed them good-bye on deck. The boy has already put in three years on the Western Front. The girls have both been educated, the elder having had two years finishing at the Pratt Institute in New York.

A grimy note saying, "Please call in to Bird Island as you pass and see the sick," brought me our next donation. "There be something wrong with Mrs. B's twins, Doctor," greeted me on landing. "Seems as if they was like kittens, and couldn't see yet a wink." It was only too true. The little twin girls were born blind in both eyes. What could they do in Labrador? Two more for our family without any question. After leaving our Orphanage, these two went through the beautiful school for the blind at Halifax, and are now able to make their own living in the world.

So the roll swelled. Some came because they were orphans; some because they were not. Thus, poor Sammy. The home from which he came was past description. From the outside it looked like a tumble-down shed. Inside there appeared to be but one room, which measured six by twelve feet, and a small lean-to. The family consisted of father and mother and three children. The eldest boy was about twelve, then came Sam, and lastly a wee girl of five, with pretty curly fair hair, but very thin and delicate-looking. She seemed to be half-starved and thoroughly neglected. The father was a ne'er-do-well and the mother an imbecile who has since died of tuberculosis. The filth inside was awful. The house was built of logs, and the spaces in between them were partly filled in with old rags and moss. The roof leaked. The room seemed to be alive with vermin, as were also the whole family. The two boys were simply clothed in a pair of men's trousers apiece and a dilapidated pair of boots between them. The trousers they found very hard to keep on and had to give them frequent hoists up. They were both practically destitute of underclothing. To hide all deficiencies, they each wore a woman's long jacket of the oldest style possible and green with age, which reached down to their heels. Round their waists they each wore a skin strap. They were stripped of their rags, and made to scrub themselves in the stream and then indoors before putting on their new clean clothes. Sammy and the little sister joined the family.

One of our boys is from Cape Chidley itself; others come from as far south and west as Bay of Islands in South Newfoundland. So many erroneous opinions seem to persist regarding the difference between Newfoundland and Labrador that I am constantly asked: "But why do you have a Children's Home in Newfoundland? Can't the Newfoundlanders look out for themselves and their dependent children?" As I have tried to make clear in a previous chapter North and South Newfoundland should be sharply differentiated as to wealth, education, climate, and opportunity. Though for purposes of efficiency and economy the actual building of the Home is situated in the north end of the northern peninsula of Newfoundland, the children who make up the family are drawn almost entirely from the Labrador side of the Straits; unless, as is often the case, the poverty and destitution of a so-called Newfoundland family on the south side of Belle Isle makes it impossible to leave children under such conditions.

It is obvious that something had to be built to accommodate the galaxy; and some one secured who understood the problem of running the Home. She—how often it is "she"—was found in England, a volunteer by the name of Miss Eleanor Storr. She was a true Christian lady and a trained worker as well. The building during the years grew with the family, so that it is really a wonder of odds and patches. The generosity of one of our volunteers, Mr. Francis Sayre, the son-in-law of President Wilson, doubled its capacity. But buildings that are made of green wood, and grow like Topsy, are apt to end like Topsy—turvy. Now we are straining every nerve to obtain a suitable accommodation for the children. We sorely need a brick building, economically laid out and easily kept warm, with separate wings for girls and boys and a creche for babies. Miss Storr was obliged to leave us, and now for over six years a splendid and unselfish English lady, Miss Katie Spalding, has been helping to solve this most important of all problems—the preparation of the next generation to make their land and the world a more fit place in which to live. Miss Spalding's contribution to this country has lain not only in her influence on the children and her unceasing care of them, but she has given her counsel and assistance in other problems of the Mission, where also her judgment, experience, and wisdom have proven invaluable.



There is yet another side of the orphanage problem. We have been obliged, due to the lack of any boarding-school, to accept bright children from isolated homes so as to give them a chance in life. It has been the truest of love messages to several. The children always repay, whether the parents pay anything or not; and as so much of the care of them is volunteer, and friends have assumed the expenses of a number of the children, the budget has never been unduly heavy. They do all their own work, and thanks to the inestimably valuable help of the Needlework Guild of America through its Labrador branch, the clothing item has been made possible. In summer we use neither boots nor stockings for the children unless absolutely necessary. Our harbour people still look on that practice askance; but ours are the healthiest lot of children on the coast, and their brown bare legs and tough, well-shaped feet are a great asset to their resistance to tuberculosis, their arch-enemy, and no small addition to the attraction of their merry faces and hatless heads.

Even though Gabriel, Prince Pomiuk, never lived within its walls, the real beginning of the idea of our Children's Home was due to him; and one feels sure that his spirit loves to visit the other little ones who claim this lonely coast as their homeland also.

The one test for surgery which we allow in these days is its "end results." Patients must not be advertised as cured till they have survived the treatment many years. Surely that is man's as well as God's test. Certainly it is the gauge of the outlay in child life. What is the good of it all? Does it pay? In the gift of increasing joy to us, in its obvious humanity and in its continuous inspiration, it certainly does make the work of life here in every branch the better.

The solution of the problem of inducing the peace of God and the Kingdom of God into our "parish" is most likely to be solved by wise and persevering work among the children. For in them lies the hope of the future of this country, and their true education and upbringing to fit them for wise citizenship have been cruelly neglected in this "outpost of Empire."

Another menace to the future welfare of the coast has been the lack of careful instruction and suitable opportunities for the development, physical, mental, and spiritual, of its girls. Without an educated and enlightened womanhood, no country, no matter how favored by material prosperity, can hope to take its place as a factor in the progress of the world. In our orphanage and educational work we have tried to keep these two ideas constantly before us, and to offer incentives to and opportunities for useful life-work in whatever branch, from the humblest to the highest, a child showed aptitude.

Through the vision, ability, and devotion of Miss Storr, Miss Spalding, and their helpers, in training the characters as well as the bodies of the children at the Home, and by the generous support of friends of children elsewhere, we have been able to turn out each year from its walls young men and women better fitted to cope with the difficult problems of this environment, and to offer to its service that best of all gifts—useful and consecrated personalities.



CHAPTER XV

PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION

Every child should be washed. Every child should be educated. The only question is how to get there. The "why's" of life interest chiefly the academic mind. The "how's" interest every one. It is a pleasure sometimes to be out in dirty weather on a lee shore; it permits you to devote all your energies to accomplishing something. When secretary for our hospital rowing club on the Thames, a fine cup was given for competition by Sir Frederick Treves on terms symbolic of his attitude to life. The race was to be in ordinary punts with a coxswain "in order that every ounce of energy should be devoted to the progress of the boat."

That is the whole trouble with the Newfoundland Labrador. All moneys granted for education are handed to the churches for sectarian schools. It is almost writing ourselves down as still living in the Middle Ages, when the Clergy had a monopoly of polite learning. In more densely populated countries this division of grants need not be so disastrous. Here it means that one often finds a Roman Catholic, a Church of England, a Methodist, and a Salvation Army school, all in one little village—and no school whatever in the adjoining place.

The denominational spirit, fostered by these sectarian schools and societies, is so emphasized that Catholic and Protestant have little in common. Some preferred to let their children or themselves suffer pain and inefficiency, rather than come for relief to a hospital where the doctors were Protestant. This has in some measure passed away, but it was painfully real at first—so much so that once a rickety, crippled child, easily cured, though he actually came to the harbour, was forbidden to land and returned home to be a cripple for life.

The salaries available offer no attraction to enter the teaching profession in this island; and there is no compulsory education law to assist those who with lofty motives remain loyal to the profession when "better chances" come along. Gauged rightly, there is no such thing as a better chance for fulfilling life's purposes than an education; and modern conditions concede the right of a decent living wage to all who render service to the world in whatever line.

In the little village where are our headquarters there was already a Church of England and a Methodist school when we came there, and a Salvation Army one has since been added. Threats of still another "institution of learning" menaced us at one time—almost like a new Egyptian plague, with more permanency of results thrown in.

If the motor power of the school boat is dissipated in sectarian religious education, not to say focussed on it, the arrival of the cargo must be seriously handicapped. The statistical returns may show a majority of our fishermen as "able to read and write"; but as a matter of fact the illiteracy and ignorance of North Newfoundland and Labrador is the greatest handicap in the lives of the people.

My first scholar came from North Labrador, long before we aspired to a school of our own. He was a lad of Scotch extraction and name, and came aboard the hospital ship one night, as she lay at anchor among some northern islands, with the request that we would take him up with us to some place where he could get an hour's schooling a day. He offered to work all the rest of the time in return for his food and clothing. To-day he holds a Pratt certificate, is head of our machine shop, has a sheet-metal working factory of his own which fills a most valuable purpose on the shore, is general consultant for the coast in matters of engineering, as well as being the Government surveyor for his district. He is also chief musician for the church, having fitted himself for both those latter posts in his "spare time." The inspiration which his life has been is in itself an education to many of us—a reflex result which is the really highest value of all life.

As each transferred individual has come back North for service, desire has at once manifested itself for similar privileges in young people who had not previously shown even interest enough to attend our winter night schools. This is the best evidence that inroads are being made into that natural apathy which is content with mediocrity or even inferiority. This is everywhere the world's most subtle enemy. Even if selfishness or envy has been the motive, the fact remains that they have often kindled that discontent with the past which Charles Kingsley preached as necessary to all progress. Nowhere could the pathology of the matter be more easily traced than in these concrete examples carrying the infection which could come from no other quarter into our isolation. It has been in very humble life an example of the return of the "Yankee to the Court of King Arthur."

There was a time when Lord Haldane proposed that every English child, who in the Board schools had proved his ability to profit by it, should be given a college or university education at the expense of the State—as a remunerative outlay for the nation. This proposal was turned down as being too costly, though the expenditure for a single day's running of this war would have gone a long way to provide such a fund. We now know that it can be done and must be done as a sign manual of real freedom, which is not the leaving of parents or forbears, incompetent for any reason, free to damn their country with a stream of stunted intellects.

America has already honoured herself forever by being a pioneer in this movement for the higher education of the people. Religion surely need not fear mental enlightenment. The dangers of life lie in ignorance, and after all is not true religion a thing of the intellect as well as of the heart? Can that really be inculcated in "two periods of forty minutes each week devoted to sectarian teaching," which was one of the concessions demanded of us in our fight for a free public or common school at St. Anthony? My own mental picture of myself at the age of seven sitting on a bench for forty minutes twice every week learning to be "religious" made me sympathize with Scrooge when the Ghost of the Past was paying him a visit.

One thing was certain. The young lives entrusted to us were having as good medical care for their bodies as we could provide; and if we could compass it, we were going to have that paralleled for their minds. The parents of the village children could do as they liked with those committed to them—and they did it. There is nothing so thoroughly reactionary that I know of as religious prejudice well ground in. As regards the treatment of physical ailments the prejudices of what Dr. Holmes called "Homoeopathy and Kindred Delusions" always are strong in proportion as they are impregnated with some religious bias.

Our efforts to combine the local schools having failed, we had to provide a building of our own. This we felt must be planned for the future. For some day the halcyon days of peace on earth shall be permitted in our community, and the true loyalty of efficient service to our brothers will, it is to be hoped, become actually the paramount object of our Christian religion. Perhaps this terrible war will have convinced the world that the loftiest aspirations of mankind are no more to save yourself hereafter than here. Is it not as true as ever that if we are not ourselves possessors of Christ's spirit, ourselves we cannot save?

The only schoolhouse available, anyhow, was not nearly so good a building as that which we have since provided for the accommodation of our pigs! Fat pork is considered an absolute essential "down North"; and it was cheaper and safer, according to Upton Sinclair, to raise pigs than buy the salted or tinned article. So we had instituted what we deemed a missionary enterprise in that line. (Pace our vegetarian friends.)

As soon as a sum of three thousand dollars had been raised, architect friends at the Pratt Institute sent down to us competitive designs, and one of our Labrador boys, who had studied there, erected the building. Having at the beginning no funds whatever for current expenses, we had to look for volunteer teachers. One denomination helped with part of its harbour grant, but the Government would not make any special donation toward the union school project. Even the caput grant, to which we had hoped that we were entitled for our own orphanage children, had by law to go to the denomination to which their parents had belonged. This was not always easy to decide correctly. On the occasion of taking the last census in Labrador, a well-dressed stranger suddenly visited one of our settlements on the east coast. It so happened that a very poor man with a large and growing family of eight children under ten years, who resided there, was not so loyal to his church as we are taught we ought to be. When the stranger entered his tilt a vision of material favours to be obtained was the dominant idea in the fisherman's mind. He was therefore on tenterhooks all the while that the questioning was going on lest some blunder of his might alienate the sympathy on which he was banking for "getting his share." At length it came to the momentous point of "What denomination do you belong to?"—a very vital matter when it comes to sympathy and sharing up. In some hesitation he gazed at the row of his eight unwashed and but half-clad offspring, whose treacly faces gaped open-mouthed at the visitor. Then with sudden inspiration he decided to play for safety, and replied, "Half of them is Church of England, and half is Methodist!"

Being an unrecognized school, and so far off, some years went by before the innovation of bringing up scholars from our northern district entered our heads. We realized at length, however, that we should close one channel of criticism to the enemy if we proved that we could justify our school by their standard of annual examinations. Our teachers, being mostly volunteers, had to come from outside the Colony. Having no funds to purchase books and other supplies, we made use of books also sent us from outside. The real value of the local examination becomes questionable as a standard of success when far more highly educated teachers, and at least as cleverly laid-out study books, prevented the children in our school from passing them.

Moreover, further to waken their faculties, we had included in our facilities a large upper hall of the school building and a library of some thousands of books collected from all quarters. The former afforded the stimulus which entertainments given by the children could carry, and also space for physical drill; the latter, that greatest incentive of all, access to books which lure people to wish to read them. In summer the parents and older children are busy with the fisheries day and night, and the little children run more or less wild, so this form of occupation was doubly desirable.

The generous help of summer volunteers, especially a trained kindergartner, Miss Olive Lesley, gave us a regular summer school. All the expensive outfit needed was also donated. Eye and hand were enlisted in the service of brain evolution; while a piano, which it is true had seen better days, pressed the ear and the imagination into the service as well.

One of the great gaps in child development in Labrador had been the almost entire lack of games. The very first year of our coming the absence of dolls had so impressed itself upon us that the second season we had brought out a trunkful. Even then we found later that the dolls were perched high up on the walls as ornaments, just out of reach of the children. In one little house I found a lad playing with some marbles. For lack of better these were three-quarter-inch bullets which "Dad had given him," while the alley was a full-inch round ball, which belonged to what my host was pleased to call "the little darlint"—a hoary blunderbuss over six feet in length. The skipper informed me that he had plenty of "fresh" for the winter, largely as a result of the successful efforts of the "darlint"; though it appeared to have exploded with the same fatal effect this year as the season previous. "I hear that you made a good shot, the other day, Uncle Joe," I remarked. "Nothing to speak on," he answered. "I only got forty-three, though I think there was a few more if I could have found them on the ice."

The pathos of the lack of toys and games appealed especially to the Anglo-Saxon, who believes that if he has any advantage over competitors, it is not merely in racial attributes, but in the reaction of those attributes which develop in him the ineradicable love of athletics and sport. The fact that he dubs the classmate whom he admires most "a good sport," shows that he thinks so, anyway.

So organized play was carefully introduced on the coast. It caught like wildfire among the children, and it was delightful to see groups of them naively memorizing by the roadside school lessons in the form of "Ring-of-Roses," "Looby-Loo," "All on the Train for Boston." To our dismay in the minds of the local people the very success of this effort gave further evidence of our incompetence.

Our people have well-defined, though often singular, ideas as to what Almighty God does and does not allow; and among the pursuits which are irrevocably condemned by local oracles is dancing. The laxity of "foreigners" on this article of the Creed is proverbial. At the time there were two ministers in the place, and realizing that the people considered that our kindergarten was introducing the thin edge of the wedge, and that our whole effort might meet with disaster unless the rumours were checked, I went in search of them without delay. Three o'clock found us knocking at the kindergarten door. The teacher and source of the reputed scandal seemed in no way disconcerted by the visitation. The first game was irreproachable—every child was sitting on the floor. But next the children, were choosing partners, and though the boys had chosen boys, and the girls girls, the suspicions of the vigilance committee were aroused. No danger, however, to the three R's transpired, and we were next successfully piloted clear of condemnation through a game entitled "Piggie-wig and Piggie-wee." Our circulation was just beginning to operate once more in its normal fashion when we were told that the whole company would now "join hands and move around in a circle" to music. The entire jury sensed that the crucial moment had come. We saw boys and girls alternating, hand held in hand—and all to the undeniably secular libretto of "Looby-Loo." It was, moreover, noted with inward pain that many of the little feet actually left the ground. We adjourned to an adjacent fish stage to discuss the matter. I need not dilate on the vicissitudes of the session. It was clear that all but "Looby-Loo" could obviously be excluded from the group of "questionables"—but the last game was of a different calibre and must be put to vote. My readers will be relieved to learn that the resultant ballot was unanimously in favour of non-interference, and that from the pulpit the following Sunday the clergy gave to the kindergarten the official sanction of the Church.

Other outsiders now began telling the people that we could not pass the Colony's examinations because we wasted our efforts on teaching "foolishness"; and the denomination which had hitherto lent us aid withdrew it, and tried again to run a midget sectarian school right alongside. The first occasion, however, on which this institution came seriously to my attention was when the minister and another young man came to call during the early weeks of our winter school session. The stranger was their special teacher. He was undoubtedly a smart lad; he had passed the preliminary examination. But he was only sixteen, and in temperament a very young sixteen at that. He was engaged at a more generous salary than usual, and was perfectly prepared to revolutionize our records. But, alas, not only was their little building practically unfit for habitation, but after a week's waiting not one single scholar had come to his school. The contrast between the two opportunities was too great—except for frothing criticism. Gladly, to help our neighbours out of a difficulty, we divided a big classroom into two parts, added a third teacher to our school, and were thus able to make an intermediate grade.

The great majority of the whole reconstruction and work of the school was made possible by the generous and loving interest of a lady in Chicago. Added to the other anxieties of meeting our annual budget, we did not feel able to bear the additional burden for which this venture called. One cannot work at one's best at any time with an anxious mind. The lady, however, was generous enough to give sufficient endowment to secure two teachers among other things, though she absolutely refused to let even her name be known in connection with the school. Our consolation is that we know that she has vision enough to realize the value of her gift and to accept that as a more than sufficient return.

Seeing that some of our older scholars were able to find really useful and remunerative employment in teaching, and as only for those who held certificates of having passed the local examinations were augmentation grants available, we decided to make special efforts to have our scholars pass by the local standards. We, therefore, thanks to the endowment, engaged teachers trained in the country, and instituted the curriculum of the Colony. These teachers told us that our school was better than almost any outside St. John's. Four scholars have passed this year; and now we have as head mistress a delightful lady who holds the best percentage record for passing children through the requirements of the local examinations of any in the country.

So much more deeply, however, do idle words sink into some natures than even deeds, that one family preferred to keep their children at home to risk sending them to our undenominational school; and there is no law to compel better wisdom with us here in the North.

On the other hand, we had already obtained a scale of our own for grading success. For a number of our most promising boys and girls we had raised the money for them to get outside the country what they could never get in it, namely, the technical training which is so much needed on a coast where we have to do everything for ourselves, and the breadth of view which contact with a more progressive civilization alone can give them. The faculty of Pratt Institute gave us a scholarship, and later two of them; and with no little fear as to their ability to keep up, we sent two young men there. The newness of our school forced us to select at the beginning boys who had only received teaching after their working hours. Both boys and girls have always had to earn something to help them on their way through. But they have stood the test of efficiency so well that we look forward with confidence to the future. A girl who took the Domestic Economy course at the Nasson Institute told me only to-day, "It gave me a new life altogether, Doctor"; and she is making a splendid return in service to her own people here.

The real test of education is its communal effect; and no education is complete which leaves the individual ignorant of the things that concern his larger relationship to his country, any more than he is anything beyond a learned animal if he knows nothing of his opportunities and responsibilities as a son of God. But though example is a more impelling factor than precept, undoubtedly the most permanent contributions conferred on the coast by the many college students, who come as volunteers every summer to help us in the various branches of our work, is just this gift of their own personalities. Strangely enough, quite a number of these helpers who have to spend considerable money coming and returning, just to give us what they can for the sole return of what that means to their own lives, have not been the sons of the wealthy, but those working their way through the colleges. These men are just splendid to hold up as inspirational to our own.

The access to books, as well as to sermons, may not be neglected. Our faculties, like our jaws, atrophy if we do not use them to bite with. The Carnegie libraries have emphasized a fact that is to education and the colleges what social work is to medicine and the hospitals. We were running south some years ago on our long northern trip before a fine leading wind, when suddenly we noticed a small boat with an improvised flag hoisted, standing right out across our bows. Thinking that it was at least some serious surgical case, we at once ordered "Down sail and heave her to," annoying though it was to have the trouble and delay. When at last she was alongside, a solitary, white-haired old man climbed with much difficulty over our rail. "Good-day. What's the trouble? We are in a hurry." The old man most courteously doffed his cap, and stood holding it in his hand. "I wanted to ask you, Doctor," he said slowly, "if you had any books which you could lend me. We can't get anything to read here." An angry reply almost escaped my lips for delaying a steamer for such a purpose. But a strange feeling of humiliation replaced it almost immediately. Which is really charity—skilfully to remove his injured leg, if he had one, or to afford him the pleasure and profit of a good book? Both services were just as far from his reach without our help.

"Haven't you got any books?"

"Yes, Doctor, I've got two, but I've read them through and through long ago."

"What kind are they?"

"One is the 'Works of Josephus,'" he answered, "and the other is 'Plutarch's Lives.'"

I thought that I had discovered the first man who could honestly and truthfully say that he would prefer for his own library the "best hundred books," selected by Mr. Ruskin and Dr. Eliot, without even so much as a sigh for the "ten best sellers."

He was soon bounding away over the seas in his little craft, the happy possessor of one of our moving libraries, containing some fifty books, ranging from Henty's stories to discarded tomes from theological libraries.

Each year the hospital ship moves these library boxes one more stage along the coast. As there are some seventy-five of them, they thus last the natural life of books, since we have only rarely enjoyed the help of a trained librarian enabling us to make the most use of these always welcome assets for our work. Later, some librarian friends from Brooklyn, chief among whom was Miss Marion Cutter, came down to help us; but our inability to have continuity when the ladies cannot afford to give their valuable services, has seriously handicapped the efficiency of this branch of the work. This, however, only spells opportunity, and when this war releases the new appreciation of service, we feel confident that somehow we shall be able to fill the gap, and some one will be found to come and help us again to meet this great need.

The cooperation of teachers and librarians more than doubles the capacity of each alone, and we believe sincerely that they do that of doctors, as they unquestionably do that of the clergy. All the world's workers have infinitely more to gain by cooperation than they often suspect. And indeed we who are apostles of cooperation, as essential for economy in distribution and efficiency in production, realize that groups of workers pulling together always increase by geometrical progression the result obtained.

None of our methods, however, tackled the smallest settlements, hidden away here and there in these fjords, especially those unreached by the mail steamers and devoid of means of transportation. Mahomet just could not come to the mountain, so it had to go to him. A lady and a Doctor of Philosophy, Miss Ethel Gordon Muir, whose life had been spent in teaching, and who would have been excused for discontinuing that function during her long vacations, came down at her own cost and charges to carry the light to one of these lonely settlements. She has with loyal devotion continued to carry on and enlarge that work ever since, till finally she has built up a work that the clergyman of the main section of coast affected, and also the Superintendent of Education, have declared is the most effective branch of our Mission. Her band of teachers are volunteers. They come down to these little hamlets for the duration of their summer vacations. They live with the fishermen in their cottages and gather their pupils daily wherever seems best. Lack of proper accommodation and pioneer conditions throughout in no way deter them. We expected that their criticism would be, "It is not worth while." That has never been the case. Before the war they came again and again, as a testimony to their belief in the value of the effort. Some have given promising children a chance for a complete education in the States. Indeed, one such lad, taken down some years ago by one of the students, entered Amherst College last year; while several were fighting with the American boys "Over There."

The only real joy of possession is the power which it confers for a larger life of service. Has it been the reader's good fortune ever to save a human life? A cousin of mine, an officer in the submarine service of the Royal Engineers, told me a year or two before the war that he was never quite happy because he had spent all his life acquiring special capacities which he never in the least expected to be able to put to practical use. This war has given to him, at least, what possessions could never have offered.

It almost requires the fabulous Jack to overcome the hoary giants of prejudice and custom, or the irrepressible energy of the Gorgon. It has been helpful to remember away "down North" the stand which Archbishop Ireland took for public schools. When the Episcopal clergyman for Labrador, whom we had been influential in bringing out from England, decided to start an undenominational boarding-school on his section of the coast, we began to hope that we might yet live to see our sporadic effort become a policy. Laymen in St. John's, led by the Rev. Dr. Edgar Jones, a most progressive clergyman, sympathized in dollars, and we were able to back the effort. A splendid volunteer head teacher will arrive in the spring to begin work. The effort still needs much help; but I am persuaded that a chain of undenominational schools can be started that will react on the whole country. Already a scheme for a similar uplift for the west coast is being promulgated.

In a letter written to my wife some years ago I find that my convictions on the subject of education were no less firm than they are to-day. One came to the conclusion that "ignorance is the worst cause of suffering on our coast, and our 'religion' is fostering it. True, it has denominational schools, but these are to bolster up special ecclesiastical bodies, and are not half so good as Government schools would be. The 'goods delivered' in the schools are not educational in the best sense, and are all too often inefficiently offered. Instead of making the children ambitious to go on learning through life, they make them tired. There is no effort to stimulate the play side; and in our north end of the Colony's territory there are no trades taught, no new ideas, no manual training—it is all so-called 'arts' and Creeds."



CHAPTER XVI

"WHO HATH DESIRED THE SEA?"

We are somewhat superstitious down here still, and not a few believe that shoals and submerged rocks are like sirens which charm vessels to their doom.

On one occasion, as late in the fall we were creeping up the Straits of Belle Isle in the only motor boat then in use there, our new toy broke down, and with a strong onshore wind we gradually drifted in toward the high cliffs. It was a heavy boat, and though we rowed our best we realized that we must soon be on the rocks, where a strong surf was breaking. So we lashed all our lines together and cast over our anchors, hoping to find bottom. Alas, the water was too deep. Darkness came on and the prospect of a long, weary night struggling for safety made us thrill with excitement. Suddenly a schooner's lights, utterly unexpected, loomed up, coming head on toward us. Like Saul and his asses, we no longer cared about our craft so long as we escaped. At once we lashed the hurricane light on the boat-hook and waved it to and fro on high to make sure of attracting attention. To our dismay the schooner, now almost in hail, incontinently tacked, and, making for the open sea, soon left us far astern. We fired our guns, we shouted in unison, we lit flares. All to no purpose. Surely it must have been a phantom vessel sent to mock us. Suddenly our amateur engineer, who had all the time been working away at the scrap-heap of parts into which he had dismembered the motor, got a faint kick out of one cylinder—a second—a third, then two, three, and then a solitary one again. It was exactly like a case of blocked heart. But it was enough with our oars to make us move slowly ahead. By much stimulating and watchful nursing we limped along on the one cylinder, and about midnight found ourselves alongside the phantom ship, which we had followed into the harbour "afar off." Angry enough at their desertion of us in distress, we went aboard just to tell them what we thought of their behaviour. But their explanation entirely disarmed us. "Them cliffs is haunted," said the skipper. "More'n one light's been seen there than ever any man lit. When us saw you'se light flashing round right in on the cliffs, us knowed it was no place for Christian men that time o' night. Us guessed it was just fairies or devils trying to toll us in."

We had no lighthouses on Labrador in those days, and though hundreds of vessels, crowded often with women and children, had to pass up and down the coast each spring and fall, still not a single island, harbour, cape, or reef had any light to mark it, and many boats were unnecessarily lost as a result.

Most of the schooners of this large fleet are small. Many are old and poorly "found" in running gear. Their decks are so crowded with boats, barrels, gear, wood, and other impedimenta, that to reef or handle sails on a dark night is almost impossible; while below they were often so crowded with women and children going North with their men for the summer fishing on the Labrador shore, that I have had to crawl on my knees to get at a patient, after climbing down through the main hatch. These craft are quite unfitted for a rough night at sea, especially as there always are icebergs or big pans about, which if touched would each spell another "vessel missing." So the craft all creep North and South in the spring and fall along the land, darting into harbours before dark, and leaving before dawn if the night proves "civil." Yet many a time I have seen these little vessels with their precious cargoes becalmed, or with wind ahead, just unable to make anchorage, and often on moonless nights when the barometer has been low and the sky threatening. As there were no lights on the land, it would have been madness to try and make harbours after sundown.

I have known the cruel, long anxiety of heart which the dilemma involved. It has been our great pleasure sometimes to run out and tow vessels in out of their distress. I can still feel the grip of one fine skipper, who came aboard when the sea eased down. The only harbour available for us had been very small, and the water too deep for his poor gear. So when he started to drift, we had given him a line and let him hold on to us through the night, with his own stern only a few yards from the cliffs under his lee, and all his loved ones, as well as his freighters, a good deal nearer heaven than he wished them to be.

We had frequently written to the Government of this neglect of lights for the coast. But Labrador has no representative in the Newfoundland Parliament, and legislators who never visited Labrador had unimaginative minds. Year after year went by and nothing was done. So I spoke to many friends of the dire need for a light near Battle Harbour Hospital. Practically every one of the Northern craft ran right by us many times as they fished first in the Gulf and later on the east coast, and so had to go past that corner of land. I have seen a hundred vessels come and anchor near by in a single evening. When the money was donated, our architect designed the building, and a friend promised to endow the effort, so that the salary of the light-keeper might be permanent. The material was cut and sent North, when we were politely told that the Government could not permit private ownership of lights—a very proper decision, too. They told us that the year before money had been voted by the House for lights, and the first would be erected near Battle Harbour. This was done, and the Double Island Light has been a veritable Godsend to me as well as to thousands of others many times since that day.





One hundred miles north of Indian Tickle, a place also directly in the run of all the fishing schooners, a light was much needed. On a certain voyage coming South with the fleet in the fall, we had all tried to make the harbour, but it shut down suddenly before nightfall with a blanket of fog which you could almost cut with a knife, and being inside many reefs, and unable to make the open, we were all forced to anchor. Where we were exactly none of us knew, for we had all pushed on for the harbour as much as we dared. There were eleven riding-lights visible around us when a rift came in the fog. We hoped against hope that we had made the harbour. A fierce northeaster gathered strength as night fell, and a mighty sea began to heave in. Soon we strained at our anchors in the big seas, and heavy water swept down our decks from bow to stern. Our patients were dressed and our boats gotten ready, though it all had only a psychological value. Gradually we missed first one and then another of the riding-lights, and it was not difficult to guess what had happened. When daylight broke, only one boat was left—a large vessel called the Yosemite, and she was drifting right down toward us. Suddenly she touched a reef, turned on her side, and we saw the seas carry her over the breakers, the crew hanging on to her bilge. Steaming to our anchors had saved us. All the vessels that went ashore became matchwood. But before we could get our anchors or slip them, our main steam pipe gave out and we had to blow down our boilers. It was now a race between the engineers trying to repair the damage and the shortening hours of daylight. On the result depended quite possibly the lives of us all. I cannot remember one sweeter sound than the raucous voice of the engineer just in the nick of time calling out, "Right for'ard," and then the signal of the engine-room bell in the tell-tale in our little wheel-house. The Government has since put a fine little light in summer on White Point, the point off which we lay.

Farther north, right by our hospital at Indian Harbour, is a narrow tickle known as the "White Cockade." Through this most of the fleet pass, and here also we had planned for a lighthouse. When we were forbidden to put our material at Battle Harbour, we suggested moving to this almost equally important point. But it fell under the same category, and soon after the Government put a good light there also. The fishermen, therefore, suggested that we should offer our peripatetic, would-be lighthouse to the Government for some new place each year.

We have not much now to complain of so far as the needs of our present stage of evolution goes. We have wireless stations, quite a number of lights, not a few landmarks, and a ten times better mail and transport service than the much wealthier and more able Dominion of Canada could and ought to give to her long shore from Quebec to the eastern "Newfoundland" boundary on the Straits Labrador.

He is not a great legislator who only makes provision for certainties. True, the West has shown such riches and capacity that it has paid better to develop it first. But there is no excuse now whatever for neglecting the East. The Dominion would have been well advised, indeed, had she years ago built a railway to the east coast, shortening the steamer communication with England to only two nights at sea, and saving twenty-four hours for the mails between London and Toronto. The war has shown how easily she could have afforded it. Most ardently I had hoped that she might have turned some of her German prisoner labour in so invaluable a direction.

Had the reindeer installation been handled by the Newfoundland Government years ago as it should have been, Labrador would have yielded to our boys in France a very material assistance in meat and furs. Canada now could and should, if only in the interest of her native population, begin on this problem as soon as peace is declared.

The fact that a thing possesses vitality is a guarantee that it will grow if it can. Each new focus will expand, and caterpillar-like cast off its old clothing for better. The first necessity for economy and efficiency in our work has been to get our patients quickly to us or to be able to get to them. Experience has shown us that while boats entirely dependent on motors are cheapest, it is not always safe to do open-sea work in such launches without a secondary and more reliable means of progression. The stories of a doctor's work in these launches would fill a volume by themselves. The first Northern Messenger, a small "hot-head" boat, was replaced and sold to pay part of the cost of Northern Messenger number two. This in its turn was wrecked on an uncharted shoal with Dr. West on board, and her insurance used to help to procure Northern Messenger number three—which is the beautiful boat which now serves Harrington, our most westerly hospital. We are largely indebted for her to Mr. William Bowditch, of Milton, Massachusetts.

Dr. Hare, our first doctor at that station, never wrote his own experiences, but one of the Yale volunteers who worked under him wrote a story founded on fact, from which the following incident is suggestive.

Once, running home before a wind in the Gulf, the doctor suddenly missed his little son Pat, and looking round saw him struggling in the water, already many yards astern. Dr. Hare, who was at the tiller at the time, instantly jumped over after him. The child was finally disappearing when he reached him at last and held his head above water. Meanwhile the engineer, who had been below, jumped on deck to find the sails flapping in the wind and the boat head to sea. With the intuitive quickness of our people in matters pertaining to the sea, he took in the situation in a second, and though entirely alone manoeuvred the boat so cleverly as to pick them both up before they perished in these frigid waters. Pat's young life was saved, only to be given a short few years later in France for the same fight for the kingdom of righteousness which his home life had made his familiar ideal.

The forty-five-foot, "hot-head" yawl Daryl, given us by the Dutch Reformed friends in New York, was sold to the Hudson Bay Company. At first she was naturally called the Flying Dutchman, and was most useful; but here we have learned when a better instrument is available that it is the truest economy to scrap-heap the old. We were to give delivery of the boat in Baffin's Land. There were plenty of volunteers for the task, for the tough jobs are the very ones which appeal to real men. It would be well if the churches realized this fact and that therein lies the real secret of Christianity. The impression that being a Christian is a soft job inevitably brings our religion into contempt. I had been in England that spring, and had been able to arrange that the mail steamer bound for Montreal on which I took passage should stop and drop me off Belle Isle if the crusaders who were to take this launch on her long voyage North would stand out across our pathway. Mr. Marconi personally took an interest in the venture. The launch was to wait at our most easterly Labrador station, and we were to keep telling her our position. The boat was in charge of Mr. John Rowland and Mr. Robert English, both of Yale. It created quite a furor among the passengers on our great ship, when she stopped in mid-ocean, as it appeared to them, and lowered an erratic doctor over the side on to a midget, whose mast-tops one looked down upon from the liner's rail. The sensation was all the more marked as we disappeared over the rail clinging to two large pots of geraniums—an importation which we regarded as very much worth while.

With an old Hudson Bay man, Mr. George Ford, to act as interpreter, and a Harvard colleague, who to his infinite chagrin was recalled by a wireless from his parents almost before starting, the little ship and her crew of three disappeared "over the edge" beyond communication. I should mention that the Company had promised an engineer for the launch, but he had begged off when he understood the nature of the projected expedition; so Yale decided that they were men enough to do without any outside help.

September had nearly gone, and no news had come from the boys. I owe some one an infinite debt for a temperament which does not go halfway to meet troubles; but even I was a little worried when unkind rumours that we had sold a boat that was not safe were capped by a father's letter to say that he "had heard the reports"! Fortunately, two days later, as the Strathcona lay taking on whale meat for winter dog food at the northernmost factory, the Northern mail steamer came in. On board were our returned wanderers, and papa, who had gone down as far as the Labrador steamer runs to look for them, as proud and happy as a man has a right to be over sons who do things. The boys had not only reached Baffin's Land, but had explored over a hundred miles of its uncharted coast-line, crossed to Cape Wolstenholme, navigated Stupart's Bay—northeast of Ungava—and finally returned to Baffin's Land, coming back to Cartwright on the Hudson Bay Company's steamer Pelican. It was a splendid record, especially when we remember the fierce currents and tremendous rise and fall of tides in that distant land. This latter was so great that having anchored one night in three fathoms of water in what appeared to be a good harbour, they had awakened in the morning to the fact that they were in a pond a full mile in the country, left stranded by the retiring tide.

Our last "hot-head," the Pomiuk, in a heavy gale of wind was smashed to atoms on a terrible reef of rocks off Domino Point a mile from land—fortunately with no one aboard. Yet another of our fine yawls, the Andrew McCosh, given us by the students of Princeton, was driven from her anchors on to the dangerous Point Amour, where years ago, H.M.S. Lily was lost, and whose bones still lie bleaching on the rocky foreshore at the foot of the cliffs. Much as I love the sea, it made one rather "sore" that it should serve us such a turn as wrecking the McCosh. I have been on the sea for over thirty years and never lost a vessel while aboard her, but to look on while the waves destroyed so beautiful a handmaid almost reconciled me to the statement that in heaven there shall "be no more sea."

It was near this same spot that in November, 1905, a very old vessel, while trying to cross the Straits in a breeze, suddenly sprung a leak which sent her to the bottom in spite of all the pumping which could be done. The six men aboard were able to keep afloat at that time of year in the open Atlantic out of sight of land for five days and nights. They had nothing to eat but dry bread, and no covering of any kind. The winds were heavy and the seas high all the while. By patiently keeping their little boat's head to the wind with the oars, for they had not any sails, day after day and night after night, and backing her astern when a breaker threatened to overwhelm them, they eventually reached land safe and sound.

The special interest about the launches has always been the pleasant connection which they have enabled us to maintain with the universities. Yale crews, Harvard crews, Princeton crews, Johns Hopkins crews, College of Physicians and Surgeons crews, and combined crews of many others, have in succeeding years thus become interested. Occasionally these men have taken back some of their Labrador shipmates to the United States for a year's education, and in that and other ways, so they say, have they themselves received much real joy and inspiration.

In order to maintain the interest which Canada had taken in our work, it had in some way to be organized. We had volunteer honorary secretaries in a few cities, but no way of keeping them informed of our needs and our progress. In New England a most loyal friend, Miss Emma White, who ever since has been secretary and devoted helper of the Labrador work there, had started a regular association with a board of directors and had taken an office in Beacon Street, Boston. This association now and again published little brochures of our work, or ordered out a few copies of the English magazine called "The Toilers of the Deep." It was suggested that we might with advantage publish a quarterly pamphlet of our own. This was made possible by the generous help of the late Miss Julia Greenshields, of Toronto, who undertook not only to edit, but also personally to finance any loss on a little magazine to be entitled "Among the Deep-Sea Fishers." This has been maintained ever since, and has been responsible for helping to raise many of the funds to enable us to "carry on."

We had also begun to get friends in New York. Dr. Charles Parkhurst, famous especially for his plucky exposure of the former rottenness of the police force of that city, had asked me to give an illustrated lecture at his mission in the Bowery. After my talk a gentleman present, to my blank astonishment, gave me a cheque for five hundred dollars. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with one who has, for all the succeeding years, given far more than money, namely, the constant inspiration of his own attitude to life and his wise counsel—to say nothing of the value of the endorsation of his name. His eldest son, one of the ablest of the rising New York architects, became chairman of the Grenfell Association of America, and gave us both of his time and talent—he being responsible, as voluntary architect, for many of our present buildings, including the Institute at St. John's, Newfoundland.

This spread of interest in the United States greatly increased our correspondence, with an odd result. Americans apparently all believed that this Colony was part of Canada, and that the postage was two cents as to the Dominion. This mistake left us six cents to pay on every letter, and sixteen on any which were overweight. On one occasion the postmaster offered me so many taxable letters that I decided to accept only one, and let the others go back. That one contained a cheque for a hundred dollars for the Mission. I naturally took the rest, and found every one of them to be bills, gossip, or from autograph-hunters.

On inquiry, our Postmaster-General informed me that it was not possible to arrange a two-cent postal rate with America. It had been tried and abandoned, because Canada wanted a share for carrying the letters through her territory. He told me, however, that he would agree gladly if the United States offered it. On my visit to Washington I had the honour of dining with Lord Bryce, our Ambassador there and an old friend of my father's, and I mentioned the matter to him. He could not, however, commend my efforts to the Government, as I had no credentials as a special delegate. There was nothing to do but take my place in the queue of importunates waiting to interview the Postmaster-General. When at length I had been moved to the top of the bench, I was called in, and very soon explained my mission. I received a most cordial hearing, but merely the information that a note would be made of my request and filed.

It suddenly flashed upon me that Americans had equal fishing rights with ourselves on the Labrador coast, and that quite a number visited there every year. Possibly the grant of a two-cent postage would be a welcome little "sop" to them. Mr. Meyer, who was the Postmaster-General at the time, said that it made all the difference if the reduced rate would in any way encourage the American mercantile marine. He bade me draw a careful list of reasons in favour of my proposal, and promised to give it careful attention.

It so happened that a few days later I mentioned the matter to Colonel McCook at whose home I was staying in New York. Colonel McCook, known as "Fighting McCook," from the fact that he was the only one of nine brothers not killed in the Civil War, at once took up the cudgels in my behalf, left for Washington the following day, and wired me on the next morning, "All arranged. Congratulations"—and I had the pleasure of telegraphing the Postmaster-General in St. John's that I had arranged the two-cent postage rate with the United States and Newfoundland. A few days later I received a marked copy of a Newfoundland paper saying how capable a Government they possessed, seeing that now they had so successfully put through the two-cent post for the Colony—and that was all the notice ever taken of my only little political intrigue; except that a year or two later, meeting Mr. Meyer in Cambridge, he whispered in my ear, "We were going out of office in four days, or you would never have got that two-cent post law of yours through so easily."

* * * * *

In the spring of 1907 I was in England, and before I left, my old University was good enough to offer me an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine of Oxford. As it was the first occasion that that respectable old University had ever given that particular degree to any one, I was naturally not a little gratified. The day of the conferring of it will ever live in my memory. My cousin, the Professor of Paleontology, half of whose life was spent in the desert of Egypt digging for papyri in old dust-heaps, was considered the most appropriate person to stand sponsor for me—a would-be pioneer of a new civilization in the sub-arctic.

The words with which the Public Orator introduced me to the Vice-Chancellor, being in Latin, seem to me interesting as a relic rather than as a statement of fact:

"Insignissime Vice-Cancellarie vosque egregii Procuratores: Adest civis Britannicus, hujus academiae olim alumnus, nunc Novum Orbem incolentibus quam nostratibus notus. Hic ille est qui quindecim abhinc annos in litus Labradorium profectus est, ut solivagis in mari Boreali piscatoribus ope medica succurreret; quo in munere obeundo Oceani pericula, quae ibi formidosissima sunt, contempsit dum miseris et maerentibus solatium ac lumen afferret. Nunc quantum homini licet, in ipsius Christi vestigiis, si fas est dicere, insistere videtur, vir vere Christianus. Jure igitur eum laudamus cujus laudibus non ipse solum sed etiam Academia nostra ornatur.

"Praesenta ad vos Wilfredum Thomassum Grenfell, ut admittatur ad gradum Doctoris in Medicina Honoris Causa."

As we, the only two Doctors Grenfell extant, marched solemnly back down the aisle side by side, the antithesis of what doctorates called for struck my sense of humour most forcibly. I had hired the gorgeous robes of scarlet box cloth and carmine silk for the occasion, never expecting to wear them again. But some years later, when yet another honorary Doctorate, of Laws, was most generously conferred upon me by a University of our American cousins, I felt it incumbent on me to uphold if possible the British end of the ritual. A cable brought me just in time the box-cloth surtout. Commencement ceremonies in the United States are in June; and the latitude was that of Rome. For years I had spent the hot months always in the sub-arctic. The assembly hall was small and crowded to bursting—not even all the graduating class could get in, much less all their friends. The temperature was in three figures. The scarlet box cloth got hotter and hotter as we paraded in and about the campus. My face outrivalled the gown in colour. I have made many lobster men out of the boiled limbs of those admirable adjuncts of a Northern diet, but I had never expected to pose as one in the flesh. The most lasting impression which the ceremony left on my mind is of my volunteer summer secretary, who stood almost on my toes as he delivered the valedictory address of his class. I still see his gradually wilting, boiled collar, and the tiny rivulet which trickled down his neck as he warmed to his subject. We were the best of friends, but I felt that glow of semi-satisfaction that comes to the man who finds that he is no longer the only one seasick on board.

About this time King Edward most graciously presented me, as one of his birthday honours, with a Companionship in the Order of St. Michael and St. George—most useful persons for any man to have as companions, especially in a work like ours, both being famous for downing dragons and devils. My American friends immediately knighted me. The papers and magazines knighted me in both the United States and Canada. But that got me into trouble, for only kings can make pawns into knights, and I had to appeal several times to the Associated Press to save myself being dubbed poseur. I have protested at meetings when the chairman has knighted me; at banquets, when the master of ceremonies has knighted me. I gave it up lest accusation should arise against me, when at a semi-religious meeting I uttered a feeble protest against the title to which I have no right, and my introducer merely repeated it the more firmly, informing the audience meanwhile that I was "too modest to use it."

There was attached to the conferring of the Order one elective latitude—it could either be sent out or wait till I returned to England and attended a levee with the other recipients. I had a great desire to see the King, and, though it meant a year's waiting, I requested to be allowed to do so. This not only was most courteously granted, but also the permission to let my presence in England be known to the Hereditary Grand Chamberlain, and the King would give me a private audience. When the day arrived, I repaired to Buckingham Palace, where I waited for an hour in the reception room in company with a small, stout clergyman who was very affable. I learned later that he was the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was carrying a fat Bible from Boston, England, I believe, to be presented to the United States of America.

At last Sir Frederick Treves, who kindly acted as my introducer, took me up to the King's study—that King whose life his skill had saved. There a most courteous gentleman made me perfectly at home, and talked of Labrador and North Newfoundland and our work as if he had lived there. He asked especially about the American helpers and interest, and laughed heartily when I told him how many freeborn Americans had gladly taken the oath of loyalty to His Majesty, when called up to act as special constables for me in his oldest Colony. He left the impression on my mind that he was a real Englishman in spirit, though he had spoken with what I took to be a slight German accent. The sports and games of the Colony I had noticed interested him very much, and all references to the splendid seafaring genius of the people also found an appreciative echo in his heart. When at last he handed me a long box with a gorgeous medal and ribbon, and bade me good-bye, I vowed I could sing "God save the King" louder than ever if I could do so without harrowing the feelings of my more tuneful neighbours.

When later, as a major in an American surgical unit in France, I was serving the R.A.M.C., the ribbon of the Order was actually of real service to me. It undoubtedly opened some closed doors, though it proved a puzzle to every A.D.M.S. to whom I had to explain the anomaly of my position when I had to go and worry him for permission to cross the road or some new imaginary line. In England, and even in America, I found that the fact that the King had recognized one's work was a real material asset. It was a credential—only on a larger scale—like that from our Minister to the Colonies, the Marquis of Ripon, who kindly had given me his blessing in writing when first I visited Canada.

How far signs of superiority are permissible is to my mind an open question. Hereditary human superiority does not necessarily exist, because selective precautions are not taken, and the environment of the superior is very apt to enfeeble the physical machine, anyhow. The question of the hereditary superiority of a man's soul, being outside my sphere, I leave to the theologians. History, which is the school of experience, belies the theory, whatever current science may say. As for the giving of hereditary titles, it is significant that they do not as a rule go to scholars or even scientific men, but to physical fighters, being physical rewards for material services. When these are in the possession of offspring no longer capable of rendering such services, it appears ridiculous that they should sail under false colours.

To make a man a hereditary duke for being humble and modest, or hereditary marquis for being unselfish and generous, or an earl for being a man of peace, and a benefactor in the things which make for peace, such as a good husband and father and comrade, has, so far as I know, never been tried. Some of the so-called lesser honours, such as knighthood, are reserved for these. However, an order of knightly citizens, so long as they are real knights, is, after all, little more than the gold key of the Phi Beta Kappa, or the red triangle of the Y.M.C.A. worker, or the Red Cross badge of the nurse. We are human, anyhow, and such concessions, seeing that they do have an undoubted stimulating value in the present stage of our development, to an Englishman seem permissible.



CHAPTER XVII

THE REINDEER EXPERIMENT

Labrador will never be a "vineland," a land of corn and wine, or a country where fenced cities will be needed to keep out the milk and honey. But though there may be other sections of the Empire that can produce more dollars, Labrador will, like Norway and Sweden, produce Vikings, and it is said that the man behind the gun is still of some moment.

In past years we have made quite extensive experiments in trying to adapt possible food supplies to this climate. I had seventeen bags of the hardiest cereal seeds known sent me. They consisted of barley from Lapland, from Russia, from Abyssinia, Mansbury barley and Finnish oats. All the seeds came from the experimental station at Rampart, Alaska, and were grown in latitude 63 deg. 30', which is two degrees north of Cape Chidley.

I find in the notes of one of my earliest voyages my satisfaction at the fact that a storm with lightning and thunder had just passed over the boat and freshened up some rhubarb which I was growing in a box. It had been presented to me by the Governor to carry down to Battle Harbour, and I was very eager that it, my first agricultural venture, should not fail.

Everywhere along the coast the inability to get a proper diet, owing to the difficulties of successful farming even on ever so small a scale, had aroused my mind to the necessity of doing something along that line. In one small cottage I saw a poor woman zealously guarding an aged rooster.

"Have you got a hen?" I asked her.

"No, Doctor; I had one, but she died last year."

"Then why ever do you keep that rooster?"

"Oh! I hopes some day to get a hen. I've had him five years. The last manager of the mill gave him to me, but you'se sees he can't never go out and walk around because of the dogs, so I just keeps he under that settle."

Pathetic as were her efforts at stock farming, I must admit that my sympathies were all with the incarcerated rooster.

The problem of the dogs seemed an insurmountable one. The Moravians' records abound in stories of their destructiveness. Mr. Hesketh Pritchard writes: "Dr. Grenfell records two children and one man killed by the dogs. This is fortunately a much less terrible record than that shown farther north by the Moravian Missions. The savage dogs did great harm at those stations one winter." Among other accidents, a boy of thirteen, strong and well, was coming home from his father's kayak to his mother. After some time, as he did not arrive, they went to search for him and found that the dogs had already killed and eaten a good part of him. A full-grown man, driving to Battle Harbour Hospital, was killed by his dogs almost at our doors.

The wolves of the country only pack when deer are about. As a contrast to our dogs, wolves have never been known to kill a man in Labrador, so it would be more correct to speak of a doggish wolf than a wolfish dog. It is an odd thing and a fortunate one that in this country, where it is very common to have been bitten by a dog, we never have been able to find any trace of hydrophobia.

A visitor returning to New York after a summer on the coast wrote as follows: "One of my lasting remembrances of Battle Harbour will be the dreadful dogs. The Mission team were on an island far removed, but there were a number of settlers' dogs which delighted in making the nights hideous. Never before have I seen dogs stand up like men and grapple with each other in a fight, and when made to move on, renew the battle round the corner."

Our efforts at agriculture had taught us not to expect too much of the country. A New Zealand cousin, Martyn Spencer, a graduate of Macdonald College of Agriculture, gave us two years' work. His experience showed that while dogs continued to be in common use, cattle-raising was impossible. Of a flock of forty Herdwick sheep given by Dr. Wakefield, the dogs killed twenty-seven at one time. Angora goats, which we had imported, perished in the winter for lack of proper food. Our land cost so much to reclaim for hay, being soaked in humic acid, that we had always to import that commodity at a cost which made more cows than absolutely essential very inadvisable. Weasels, rats, hawks, and vermin needed a man's whole time if our chickens were to be properly guarded and repay keeping at all. An alfalfa sent us from Washington did well, and potatoes also gave a fair return, though our summer frosts often destroyed whole patches of the latter. Our imported plum and crabapple trees were ringed by mice beneath the snow in winter. At a farm which we cleared nine miles up a bay, so as to have it removed from the polar current, our oats never ripened, and our turnips and cabbage did not flourish in every case. We could not plant early enough, owing to the ground being frozen till July some years.

On the other hand, when we looked at the hundreds of thousands of square miles on which caribou could live and increase without any help from man, and indeed in spite of all his machinations, our attention was naturally turned to reindeer farming, and I went to Washington to consult Dr. Sheldon Jackson, the Presbyterian missionary from Alaska. It was he who had pioneered the introduction by the United States Government of domestic reindeer into Alaska. At Washington we received nothing but encouragement. Reindeer could make our wilderness smile. They would cost only the protection necessary. They multiply steadily, breeding every year for eight or ten years after their second season. A selected herd should double itself every three years.

The skins are very valuable—there is no better nonconductor of heat. The centre of the hair is not a hollow cylinder, but a series of air bubbles which do not soak water, and therefore can be used with advantage for life-saving cushions. The skins are splendid also for motor robes, and now invaluable in the air service. The meat is tender and appetizing, and sold as a game delicacy in New York. The deer fatten well on the abundant mosses of a country such as ours.

Sir William MacGregor, the Governor of Newfoundland at the time, had samples of the mosses collected around the coast and sent to Kew Botanical Gardens for positive identification. The Cladonia Rangiferina, or Iceland moss, proved very abundant. It was claimed, however, that the reindeer would eat any of such plants and shrubs as our coast offers in summer.

As long ago as the year 1903 my interest in the domestication of deer had led me to experiment with a young caribou. We had him on the Strathcona nearly all one summer. He was a great pet on board, and demonstrated how easily trained these animals are. He followed me about like a dog, and called after me as I left the ship's side in a boat if we did not take him with us. He was as inquisitive as a monkey or as the black bear which we had had two years before. We twice caught him in the chart-room chewing up white paper, for on his first raid there he had found an apple just magnanimously sent us from the shore as a delicacy.

Friends, inspired by Mr. William Howell Reed, of Boston, collected the money for a consignment of reindeer, and we accordingly sent to Lapland to purchase as many of the animals as we could afford. The expense was not so much in the cost of the deer as in the transport. They could not be shipped till they had themselves hauled down to the beach enough moss to feed them on their passage across the Atlantic. Between two hundred and fifty and three hundred were purchased, and three Lapp families hired to teach some of our local people how to herd them. When at last snow enough fell for the sledges to haul the moss down to the landwash, it was dark all day around the North Cape.

Fifty years hence in all probability the Lapps will be an extinct race, as even within the past twelve or fifteen years, districts in which thousands of domesticated reindeer grazed, now possess but a few hundreds.

The good ship Anita, which conveyed the herd to us, steamed in for southern Newfoundland and then worked her way North as far as the ice would permit. At St. Anthony everything was frozen up, and the men walked out of the harbour mouth on the sea ice to meet the steamer bringing the deer. The whole three hundred were landed on the ice in Cremailliere, some three miles to the southward of St. Anthony Hospital, and though many fell through into the sea, they proved hardy and resourceful enough to reach the land, where they gathered around the tinkling bells of the old deer without a single loss from land to land.

One of our workers at St. Anthony that winter wrote that "the most exciting moment was when the woman was lowered in her own sledge over the steamer's side on to the ice, drawn to the shore, and transferred to one of Dr. Grenfell's komatiks, as she had hurt her leg on the voyage. The sight of all the strange men surrounding her frightened her, but she was finally reassured, threw aside her coverings, and clutched her frying-pan, which she had hidden under a sheepskin. When she had it safely in her arms she allowed the men to lift her and put her on the komatik." When the doctor at the hospital advised that her leg would best be treated by operation, the man said, "She is a pretty old woman, and doesn't need a very good leg much longer." She was thirty-five!

An Irish friend had volunteered to come out and watch the experiment in our interest—and this he did most efficiently. The deer flourished and increased rapidly. Unfortunately the Lapps did not like our country. They complained that North Newfoundland was too cold for them and they wanted to return home. One family left after the first year. A rise in salary kept three of the men, but the following season they wanted more than we had funds to meet, and we were forced to decide, wrongly, I fear, to let them go. The old herder warned me, "No Lapps, no deer"; but I thought too much in terms of Mission finances, the Government having withdrawn their grant toward the herders' salaries. Trusting to the confidence in their own ability of the locally trained men, I therefore let the Lapp herders go home. The love of the Lapps for their deer is like a fisherman's for his vessel, and seems a master passion. They appeared even to grudge our having any deer tethered away from their care.

To us it seemed strange that these Lapps always contended that the work was too hard, and that the only reason that they were always gone from camp was that there were no wolves to keep the herd together. They claimed that we must have a big fence or the deer would go off into the country. They, of course, both when with us and in Lapland as well, lived and slept where the herd was. They told us that the deer no longer obeyed the warning summons of the old does' bells, having no natural enemy to fear; and one told me, "Money no good, Doctor, if herd no increase." Reindeer seemed to be the complement of their souls.

Meanwhile the Alaskan experiment was realizing all of Dr. Jackson's happiest hopes; but it had a strong Government grant and backing and plenty of skilled superintendence. The lack of those were our weaknesses. Our deer thrived splendidly and multiplied as we had predicted. We went thirty miles in a day with them with ease. We hauled our firewood out, using half a dozen hauling teams every day. Every fortnight during the rush of patients at the hospital in summer we could afford to kill a deer. The milk was excellent in quality and sweet, and preserved perfectly well in rubber-capped bottles. The cheese was nourishing and a welcome addition to the local diet. At the close of the fourth year we had a thousand deer.

A paper of the serious standing of the "Wall Street Journal," writing at about that time, under the title "Reindeer Venison from Alaska," had this to say: "At different times in the past twenty years the Government imported reindeer into Alaska—about twelve hundred in all—in hopes to provide food for the natives in the future. The plan caused some amusement and some criticism at the time. Subsequent developments, however, have justified the attempt. The herds have now increased to about forty thousand animals, and are rapidly becoming still more numerous. The natives own about two thirds of the number. Shipments of meat have been made to the Pacific Coast cities. Last year the sales of venison and skins amounted to $25,000. It is claimed that the vast tundra, or treeless frozen plains of Alaska, will support at least ten million animals. The federal authorities in charge are so optimistic of the future outlook that the prediction is made that within twenty-five years the United States can draw a considerable part of its meat supply from Alaska." What can be done in Alaska can be done in Labrador, and with its better facilities for shipping and handling the product, the greater future ought to be the prize of the latter country.

In the spring of 1912 there were five hundred fawns, and at one time we had gathered into our corral for tagging no less than twelve hundred and fifty reindeer. Of these we sold fifty to the Government of Canada for the Peace River District. There they were lost because they were placed in a flat country, densely wooded with alders, and not near the barren lands. We also sold a few to clubs, in order to try and introduce the deer. These sales would have done the experiment no injury, but with the fifty to Canada went my chief herder and two of my other herders from Labrador. This loss, from which we never recovered, coincided with an outbreak of hostility toward the deer among the resident population, who live entirely on the sea edge. Only long afterwards did we find out that it was partly because they feared that we would force deer upon them and do away with their dogs. The local Government official told me only the other day that the second generation from this would have very little good to say of the short-sightedness of these men who let such a valuable industry fail to succeed.

With the increasing cares of the enlarging Mission, with Lieutenant Lindsay gone back to Ireland, and no one to superintend the herding, the successful handling of the deer imperceptibly declined. The tags on the ears were no longer put in; the bells were not replaced in the old localities. The herd was driven, not led as before—was paid for, not loved. These differences at the time were marked by increasing poaching on the herd by the people. Here and there at first they had killed a deer unknown to us; and finally we caught one hidden in a man's woodpile, and several offenders were sent to jail.

We appealed to the Newfoundland Government for protection, as to be policeman and magistrate for the herd which one held in trust was an anomalous position. I was ordered by them to sit on the bench when these cases were up, as I did not own the deer. The section of land on which we had the animals is a peninsula of approximately one hundred and fifty square miles. It is cut off by a narrow, low neck about eight miles long. During all our years of acquaintance with the coast not a dozen caribou had been killed on it, for they do not cross the neck to the northward. But when we applied for a national preserve, that no deer at all might be killed on the peninsula, and so we might run a big fence across the neck with a couple of herders' houses along the line of it, a petition, signed by part of the "voters," went up to St. John's, against such permission being granted us. The petition stated that the deer destroyed the people's "gardens," that they were a danger to the lives of the settlers, whose dogs went wild when they crossed their path, and they claimed that the herd "led men into temptation," because if there were no reindeer to tempt men to kill them, there would be none killed. The deer thus were supposed to be the cause of making cattle-thieves out of honest men! The result was that a law was passed that no domestic reindeer might be shot north of the line of the neck for which we had applied, and which we intended to fence. This only made matters ten times worse, for if the deer either strayed or else were driven across the line, the killing of them was thus legalized.





The deer had cost us, landed, some fifty-one dollars apiece. Three years of herding under the adverse conditions of lack of support from either Government or people had not lessened the per caput expense very materially. If we had shot some one's fifty-dollar cow, our name would have been anathema—but we lost two hundred and fifty deer one winter. In addition to this, when we moved the deer to a spot near another village on a high bluff, over a hundred died in summer, either—according to the report of the herders—from falling over the cliffs driven by dogs, or of a sickness of which we could not discover the nature, though we thought that it resembled a kind of pneumonia.

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