Labrador Straits Labrador Straits
Labrador Straits
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nursepicAlong with many other artifacts relating to the social and cultural history of the Labrador Straits, the museum houses several items from the first nursing station in the area. Dennison Cottage, built in Forteau in 1907, was a result of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell's medical mission along the Quebec and Labrador coast and was the first ever Grenfell Mission Nursing Station to be established.

It received its name in honour of its benefactor, an American Civil War soldier who had been abandoned by his ship while passing through Labrador and left with no money or food. Not only did the Labrador people provide him with a comfortable night's rest, warm clothes and food, but one man gave him some oil skin clothing and a sou'wester to continue his journey in search of his ship. After meeting up with his boat once more in Red Bay, Dennison said he would one day return the kindness of the people of Labrador. Forty years later he gave Dr. Grenfell $1000 toward the construction of the first nursing station and dispensary in Labrador - Dennison Cottage.

More than a hundred miles from the closest hospital, Dennison Cottage provided medical care in the form of emergency services and the delivery of children. Miss Florence Bailey was the first nurse at Dennison Cottage and served there for eighteen years. She was recruited from England and was renowned for her caring nature and expert abilities as a mid-wife. She also became quite skilled at driving dogsleds before leaving the management of the station to the nurses that would follow in her footsteps.

For many years, anyone requiring extensive medical care would be transported to the hospital in Battle Harbour by dog team or by boat, depending on the time of year. The services of the Forteau Nursing Station continued until the latter part of the 20th century, when a larger clinic offering more medical services was built in Forteau.


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