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In an illustrated lecture delivered in the Union last evening, Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell h.'09 very interestingly and vividly described the life of the fishermen and trappers of the North and told of the mission work being done among them.
The fishing population of Labrador is a curious mixture of English, French, and other foreign nationalities, congregating together at times in great fleets of fishing schooners. These vessels are extremely serviceable and well adapted to their many uses; and, as big gales are very rare, the loss of life at sea is very small. When bad storms do occur at rare intervals, however, whole fleets are sometimes lost, as was the case several years ago when twenty-six schooners were wrecked.
Dr. Grenfell first became interested in medical missions among the fishermen of Labrador in 1892. The suffering of the natives and the intense poverty throughout the fishing settlements led to the gradual establishment of a chain of hospitals, nursing stations, orphanages and co-operative stores along the coast. Communication between the scattered settlements was established by the visits of the mail boat, which now acts also as a hospital ship, collecting patients along the coast and bringing them to the various hospitals where proper care can be taken of them. In connection with the hospital work it is worthy of notice that in this land of pure air tuberculosis is the chief enemy of the people. To help the natives to fight the disease instruction is given, whenever possible, in sanitary methods of living, and today the old habit of keeping shanties absolutely airtight is slowly dying out.
Efforts are being made to teach the people to live with more comfort. Along the coast, for example, woolen weaving has been established so that during the winter the women can make clothes, and agricultural stations have been located in the less barren parts of the country where experiments are made. Lumber mills have been established, and several peat bogs have been opened. In a word, the most is being made out of the limited resources of the country.
Dr. Grenfell spoke of the large opportunities for service in Labrador, and mentioned the fact that at the present time eight Harvard graduates are actively engaged in mission work along the coast. In closing he referred briefly to various other occupations common to the natives and spoke especially of the existence of the whale industry and the methods employed by those engaged in it.
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