The Grenfell Experience
Signal Hill
Cape Spear National Historic Site
 

The Grenfell Experience

Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, known as the Doctor of the North, arrived in 1892 on the rugged northern coast of Newfoundland / Labrador.   After coming to this area from a small coastal town in England, Dr. Grenfell provided medical care as he traveled from town to village.  He first came to investigate conditions in the Labrador fishing industry, but stayed for his entire lifetime practicing medicine, building hospitals, establishing schools and orphanages. 

 

He once traveled 1,500 miles on a dogsled across hazardous ice and through blinding snow just to provide medical care to the people of Newfoundland / Labrador.  He taught fisherman that by working as a cooperative they could free themselves of debt imposed by the merchants and to make and sell goods that their families would produce.  He became a magistrate empowered to resolve legal issues and was also a social conscience for the people who needed moral guidance. 

  

Today, you can visit a museum, his house, the hospital rotunda, a park and boathouse and the Tea House Hill where his ashes now remain in his beloved countryside.  Dr. Grenfell, together with his wife, Lady Anne contributed immeasurably to this province and he was knighted in 1928 in recognition of his lifetime of commitment to the people who lived here.

 

   

Signal Hill

Located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Signal Hill sits high above and overlooking the entrance to St. John’s harbor.   Used extensively for defense, observation and communication, over the years observers would look out at ships headed into the harbor, conveying information about approaching vessels for both mercantile and security purposes.   Vestiges of shore batteries still remain from periods dating back as far as 1762.  

 

In 1897, Cabot tower was built in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s “Voyage of Discovery”.  Also, on December 12th, 1901 Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless signal transmitted from England.

 

   

Cape Spear National Historic Site

Since 1836, the lighthouse at Cape Spear has warned ships at sea about the peril of this point of land.  Even though the island was inhabited for over two centuries this was the second and is now the oldest remaining lighthouse that was built for the safety of coastal navigation.  The original design was built in and shipped from Scotland and was modified many times using oil, acetylene and then electricity as a light source.  In 1955, the lens and assembly was moved to a new lighthouse near this one.   

 

            Cape Spear is the eastern most point of land in North America and served as a coastal defense site for Canadian and American forces during World War II.  There are the remains of gun emplacements, as well as, underground tunnels connecting the guns sites to magazines.  It was designed to protect against German submarines and raiders attacking the island by entering St. John’s harbor.