Browse Additional Selections from
Vashti Bartlett Photograph Collection
Reindeer provide patient transport



Vashti Bartlett Photograph Collection

William Grenfell postcard

Wilfred T. Grenfell, M.D., and the
Hospital Steamer, Strathcona.

In 1908 Vashti Bartlett traveled to Newfoundland to join the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen established by medical missionary, Dr. Wilfred Grenfell. The mission not only sought to treat health care problems, but also strove to improve social conditions through education and by promoting local industry. Vashti brought needed health care to the mission by serving as chief nurse at St. Anthony's Hospital.

Click on images for larger views

Grenfell holding "court" on deck
Wilfred Grenfell and others meeting on the
hospital ship "Strathcona".

Promoting local industry

Wilfred Grenfell and Reuben shearing angora goats.

Reindeer being imported

Landing of the "Anita" at Cremeliere harbor in ice,
December, 1907, with 300 reindeer from Norway.

The same year Vashti arrived in Newfoundland, the reindeer came as well. Dr. Grenfell in his efforts to promote the health and industry of the region, arranged to have 300 reindeer imported from Norway to serve both as a food source and as draught animals to help diversify the region's economy. In addition to bringing the reindeer to Newfoundland, he also arranged for their handlers to accompany them. A group of Laplanders skilled in reindeer handling along with their herding dogs traveled to Newfoundland to provide training for the local populace.

Patient lifted off of boat
Landing the "Lapwoman" at St. Anthony's.


reindeer sled
Laplanders at St. Anthony with reindeer-sleds.

Ultimately, Grenfell's "reindeer experiment" was viewed as having failed. Although the herd increased dramatically over the ensuing decades, the reindeer eventually disappeared from the region, having been either taken by local hunters or absorbed incrementally into the caribou herds.

Dogs provide invaluabel assistance
Dr. Grenfell's St. Anthony dog team.

"Doc" of sled dog team
"Doc" the largest of the dog team on the "ice pan." April 1908.

dogsled downhill

"Doc" and team coming downhill, fast.

hospital sled

Dr. Hare at Harrington Hospital and
"woman box" sled.

Labrador dog cart

A boy with his dog and cart.

impoverished conditions
Fisherman's Houses, Back Cove.V.B.