EXTRACTS FROM DR. GRENFELL'S LOG.
July 13, 1901.
We have now been visiting Canadian Labrador for a week. I can only say that, as far as medical assistance goes, it is far worse off than the much more bleak, poor and less-populated regions under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. There is no hospital east of Quebec, a distance of many hundred miles—twice as far as it is to St. John's hospital from any part of Newfoundland. Moreover, there is scarcely any method for a sick person to get off the coast to Quebec, if they want to. Indeed for the poor there is none. Instead of a weekly mail boat there is no mail steamer at all. The people must travel by boat or on a casual trader, and neither is a fit way for the sick person. The hasty and infrequent visits of a fishing boat, on which, some years, there is not a doctor—and when there is his chief business is the fishery and not doctoring—are absurdly inadequate for the requirements of the people. I am now taking up one fisherman to our hospital, and there are several cases more that need conveyance there. I very much doubt if any operations under anesthetics are done, or any facilities for the modern treatment of the sick provided at all for the Canadians on Canadian Labrador this side of Cape Whittle. The ridiculous argument has been put forward that it is quite enough for a sick person to go to Gaspe or Quebec for treatment. It might be advanced if there was any means to go, but there isn't any means and they don't and can't go. Giving a visit twice in the summer, for possibly half an hour only, does not meet the need ; and the mere doling out of pills and mixtures cannot be called civilized medical treatment. Yesterday I was called to a case of an unfortunate woman dying of cancer. She had never received any treatment whatever and had never seen a doctor. Another case yesterday was heart disease and dropsy ; this man had seen no doctor. Moreover, the same day I had to open four poisoned wounds of the hand and one of the knee, besides many minor cases. None of these had a hospital to go to, nor any doctor in reach. And what about the winter ? Well, Canadians between Blanc Sablon and Cape Whittle have to suffer and die without civilized skilled help ; that is all. What good is the fishery officer's visit then ? A small winter hospital near the larger centres of Harrington and Mutton Bay would receive support no doubt from the
people of the coast, who are far better off than those on the more northern parts. But the people are not able to build and support it, and they can't carry it on as it ought to be carried on by themselves.
July 1, 1923.
From the North reports of the furring are excellent so far. The trappers of Northern Labrador have been enjoying far better times than her fishermen. At a fair in Hamilton Inlet, held by the people for their hospital at North-west River, over $500 in cash was realized.
The great drawback so far here has been the ill fortune of our mail steamers, which has made communication so poor. Our mail steamer service is so much better than on the Canadian Labrador that we cry out at once when we are left without a regular sequence.
July 18th, off Little Mecatine, Canadian Labrador.
We have now been cruising down in these waters for a few days and have been seeing quite a number of patients, who are quite beyond the reach of any medical help, except such as the casual visit of an already overbusy captain of the fishery steamer can render them. Judging by experience of these cases, it is perfectly obvious that nowhere is there need for a small hospital. For practically no serious help is expected unless they go to Quebec or Halifax, long and expensive journeys, far beyond the reach of many of the patients. One child of eight years, with tubercular disease of the knee, we have arranged to send to hospital for operation. One woman we are carrying up ourselves for immediate treatment. While many that need watching and extended treatment had to be left with written directions and with stock bottles of medicines. Whatever else can be said against the efficiency of the way in which the far-off people of Newfoundland are looked after, both in the matter of transport, mail service, and assistance in times of accident and sickness, they are, at least, a great deal better off than those on the Canadian soil.