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Interesting Facts

Demographics

According to the Canada 2001 Census:

Population 2001: 2730

Land (square kilometers): 37.02

Average earnings (of people who work full-time, year-round): $37,736 (Canadian dollars)

Median household income: $43,182

History

The history of European settlement of St. Anthony reaches back to the early 1500s, when French and Basque fishermen used the well-sheltered harbour as a seasonal fishing station. By the time explorer Jacques Cartier came across the settlement in 1534, he reported it was named St. Anthony Haven.

More people began arriving in the mid-1800s. By 1857, a census found 71 inhabitants in 10 families. By 1874, the population rose to 110, and by 1891, it was 139.

The town grew more rapidy after the arrival of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell in 1900 (see below).

A salt fish plant and cold storage facility built in the 1930s and 1940s were a boon to the local economy.

St. Anthony also became an outpost for the U.S. military. In 1951, a U.S. radar site was built on a nearby hill, and by 1962, there were 250 servicemen stationed there.

Tourism has become an important industry to the town as fishing stocks dwindled. Tourists come to visit historical sites related to Grenfell, to see the nearby Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows or to see natural attractions such as icebergs and whales.

Dr. Wilfred Grenfell

St. Anthony’s most influential historic figure is Dr. Wilfred Grenfell.

Born on February 28, 1865 in northern England. Grenfell entered the London Hospital Medical School in 1883. While in London, Grenfell heard the American evangelist Dwight L. Moody. The event inspired him to a life of Christian charity.

A member of the Royal National Mission To Deep Sea Fishermen, Grenfell was sent to investigate the conditions of fishermen in the Labrador region in 1892. He was said to be the first doctor to reach the region. He would later establish a string of hospitals, cooperatives and schools for people in remote Newfoundland and Labrador towns. He chose Red Bay as the headquarters of the Grenfell Mission in 1900.

Attractions

St. Anthony is a popular tourist destination known for its whale watching, icebergs and vast wildlife population.

Dr. Wilfred Grenfell’s work in St. Anthony is commemorated by several historic sites and museums, including:

  • Grenfell House Museum: Built between 1909 and 1910, it was the home of Dr. Grenfell, his wife Anne, and their three children. After Grenfell’s retirement to Vermont, the house became a residence for mission workers. It opened as a museum in 1981.
  • Grenfell Interpretive Centre: Interprets the life and times of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell through a gallery of interpretative paneling and displays. The centre is designed to be self touring and to provide a more modern interpretative experience for visitors.
  • Tea House Hill: A 20 minute walking trail with interpretative panels and seating along the route. The trail leads to the top of the hill where Dr. Grenfell, his wife and other colleagues are buried.

Link: Grenfell Historical Properties Website

Other attractions include:

  • The Rotunda: A display of ceramic murals depicting the culture and history of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Dockhouse Museum: Demonstrates to visitors how vessels of all sizes were pulled out of the water for repairs in the late 1920s.
  • L’Anse Aux Meadows: A Norse village inhabited from 6000 b.c. to late 1800’s. Site was recognized as one of the world’s major archaeological properties and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

Link: UNESCO Canada