Finding Grenfell

Tracing the Grenfell Mission in Southern Labrador

Finding Grenfell

Status Note, August 2019 Finding Grenfell interpretive panels are currently under construction and will be installed at a later date. Please check back for updates.

Summer Schools


Panel Location: L'Anse au Loup (Lawrence D. O'Brien Town Hall)

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From the beginning of his work in Labrador, Dr. Wilfred Grenfell was able to interest and attract a variety of workers and volunteers eager to assist him in some capacity. One of these groups was volunteer summer teachers. Although the Newfoundland Government did supply teachers to many communities in the area during the regular school year, Grenfell attracted a corps of teachers willing to spend their summer holidays teaching the children of northern Newfoundland and coastal Labrador.

Many of these teachers submitted accounts of their experiences to be published in Among the Deep Sea Fishers, the quarterly magazine published by the International Grenfell Mission. It is apparent from these accounts that being associated with the Grenfell Mission meant the people of the region expected them to handle just about any situation. In addition to teaching the children many of them were called on for minor medical ailments, tailoring, nutritional instruction and in some cases just reading aloud and playing gramophone records for the people of the villages.

One of the earliest volunteer teachers was Ethel Gordon Muir, whose first Labrador school was at Red Bay in 1909. Miss Muir was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts at Dalhousie University, then went on to get a PhD from Cornell University in New York. When she first came to Labrador she was a teacher on staff at Mrs. Dow's School in Briarcliff Heights, NY, which had a Labrador Club to raise awareness and funds for volunteer teachers with the Grenfell Mission.

Ethel Gordon Muir remained with the Mission until her retirement from teaching in the early 1930s. She continued to teach at several places, including Indian Cove and Snack Cove in Labrador, and eventually established her headquarters at Black Duck Cove on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. She became a coordinator for the summer schools program and was responsible for recruiting and guiding volunteer teachers to and from the coast every summer until her retirement.

Mary Lane Dwight, a colleague of Miss Muir at Mrs. Dow's school, came to West St Modeste in the summer of 1908 and later worked with the orphanage that Grenfell established at St. Anthony. Her book Children of Labrador, part of the Children's Missionary Series, was published in 1913.

Another notable teacher was Ethelwyn Dithridge of Hollis, Long Island, New York. She spent two summers in Labrador — 1915 at English Point in Forteau Bay and 1917 at Deep Water Creek near St. Lewis Bay. While at English Point Miss Dithridge penned a poem called "As Thou Wilt" that won her a $100 prize from the St. Louis Arts League in 1917. She wrote poetry for most of her life and published many of them in a volume called Not by Bread Alone in 1950.


"Willingly to School," a history of the International Grenfell Association's educational program, was written by Dr. Charles S. Curtis and published in Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 56(1), April 1958, pp. 3-11.

Ethel Gordon Muir wrote of her experiences teaching at Red Bay in the summer of 1909 in "A Summer School at Red Bay," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 7(4) January 1910, pp. 31-34.

Ethel Gordon Muir spent the summer of 1917 teaching at Indian Cove, near Battle Harbour. Her experiences can be found in "Indian Cove," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 15(3) October 1917, pp. 111-12.

Annie M. Warne and Ethel Gordon Muir both wrote of the beginnings of the Grenfell Mission's summer school program in Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 14(3) October 1916, pp. 115-17.

"Snack Cove," recounts Ethel Gordon Muir's summer at that village near Cartwright in 1916. Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 14(4) January 1917, pp. 144-45.

Letters from teachers Ethelwyn Dithridge and Isobel Millen, who spent the summer of 1915 at English Point and L'Anse au Loup respectively, were published in Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 13(3) October 1915, pp. 120-23.

Margaret Earhart was summer teacher at Capstan Island in 1922. Her experiences are recollected in "Better Health for Capstan Island," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 20(3-4) January 1923, pp. 131-32.

Margaret Woodford was the summer teacher at Indian Cove in 1922. Her experiences are described in "The Indian Cove School, Labrador," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 20(3-4) January 1923, page 139.

"West St. Modeste School" describes Celestine Goddard's experience in the summer of 1922 in Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 20(3-4) January 1923, pp. 142-43.

In the summer of 1914, Florence Ball from Cleveland, Ohio journeyed to William's Harbour to be the summer teacher. Her experiences are found in "Summer School in Williams Harbor," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 13(2) July 1915, pp. 61-63.

Kathleen Ewing was the summer teacher at Venison Tickle in 1918. Her description of the summer is in "The School at Venison Tickle," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 18(2) July 1920, pp. 53-55.

Elizabeth Braine and Frances Ward spent time in L'Anse au Loup during the the summers of 1923 and 24. Some of their experiences, including building a shack to live in, are recounted by Elizabeth Braine in "Summer at L'Anse au Loup," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 21(4) January 1924, pp. 133-35.

M. Aletta Crump wrote of her experiences as a community worker/teacher at L'Anse au Loup in 1926 in "Brief Memories of L'Anse au Loup," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 24(4), January 1927, pp. 164-66.

Frances A. Warren's experiences as summer teacher at Capstan Island in 1923 are told in "At Capstan Island," Among the Deep Sea Fishers, Vol 21(3), October 1923, page 100.

Finding Grenfell