The purpose of the mission was to help the poor with food, clothing and medical care, as well as improving their global economic conditions. The mission was created by Grenfell and modelled after a Boston hospital founded and managed by Jessie Luther. The medical staff and volunteers of the Grenfell Mission were from many countries in addition to Canada, such as the United States, Scotland, and England. Roads between settlements did not exist during much of the time that the Grenfell Mission supplied services, so in summer, nurses and doctors travelled to patients by boat, and in the winter, by dog team or (in later years) airplane. Certain drugs and medical supplies were not available in the Mission's remote setting, so staff were obliged to use inventive procedures.
Tuberculosis occurred at epidemic proportions in the 1940s in northern Newfoundland and Labrador. "The role that the Grenfell Mission played in the near eradication of tuberculosis was indeed one of its most outstanding achievements".
The Grenfell Mission became the International Grenfell Association. In 2005, the Labrador-Grenfell Regional Authority was formed with the support of the provincial government to continue to provide care to around 37,000 people in northern Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Grenfell Mission established a Village Industry Department prior to 1930. Artists came from abroad to support the artistic endeavors of the residents of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Grenfell Mission was famous for its burlap rugs, which were sold to hospitals in the United States and Britain. Encouraged and promoted by Dr. Grenfell, the rugmakers of the mission sometimes used designs created by Mrs. Grenfell. Beginning in the early 20th century, the International Grenfell Association (IGA) hired Jessie Luther of Providence, Rhode Island, to set up and direct the Grenfell Industrial Department. Grenfell established retail shops in England and in several U.S. cities. These shops were staffed by volunteers and augmented by travelling salesmen. Following the death of Dr. Grenfell and the surge in machine-made rug production, the business gradually failed. Grenfell rugs remain highly prized by folk art collectors.
In 2008 Grenfell Handicrafts, formerly known as Grenfell Industries, appointed a new 'Artist in Residence' by the name of Christian Corbet who created several new and unique mats and rugs based on his abstracted paintings.
- Lombard, Rosalie M. (2014). Adventures of a Grenfell Nurse, 1952-1954. Xlibris. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-5035-1303-7.
- Lombard (2014). Adventures of a Grenfell Nurse. p. 32.
- Lombard, 2014, pp. 43-44
- Bickerdike, Rhonda Dawson. "Coll-198". Archives and Special Collections. Memorial University of Newfoundland - Digital Archives Initiative. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
- Helaine Fendelman (2004). "Rugs to Riches: Grenfell Hooked Textiles" Chubb Collectors website. Retrieved on 2006-11-07.
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