A Trip to Labrador: Letters and Journals of Edward Caldwell Moore.


160 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55081-252-7
DDC 971.8'202092





Edited by Kirby Walsh
Reviewed by Melvin Baker

Melvin Baker is an archivist and historian at Memorial University of
Newfoundland, and the co-editor of Dictionary of Newfoundland and
Labrador Biography.


The British medical missionary Dr. Wilfred Grenfell (1865–1940) is an iconic figure in 20th century Newfoundland history for his work from 1892 onwards in providing medical help to coastal Labradorians and to residents of the Island of Newfoundland who visited the Labrador coast each year to fish. Grenfell’s work included the establishment of a hospital system that brought substantial international attention and funds for his work and international acclaim for him.


Grenfell attracted many professional volunteers to serve with his medical mission. One was Edward Moore, a Presbyterian minister and the Parkman Professor of Theology at Harvard University. An American, Moore had studied in Germany where he had developed a strong interest in the Moravian missionary movement which had been active in Labrador since the late eighteenth century ministering to the Inuit. Interested in their Labrador work, Moore arranged in 1905 to work with Grenfell by leading worship and helping Grenfell in general.


Moore kept a journal and wrote regular letters to his wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts providing detail of his observations of people, the landscape, the weather and events of his trip from mid-July to early September. His keen observations of Grenfell show the missionary’s character in all its strengths and weaknesses: "it is pitiful to see how impossible it is for any living being to live and work with him. Or how sharply he speaks to the poor sick people themselves, if he happens to be in the whim, how little he is loved, how many enemies he has and largely by putting his own worst foot foremost and showing the petty side and the foibles and degeneracies of a great venturer living too much in isolation and too much in sole command and responsibility." Moore’s visit to the Moravian mission in northern Labrador provides useful insights on the cultural impact the Moravians had on the Inuit, an impact still debated by scholars. Moore complements the text with brief annotated notes and photographs taken by Moore. The book is an interesting window into Grenfell’s work before he became better organized through the incorporation in 1914 of the International Grenfell Association and of life in coastal Labrador during the early twentieth century.



Moore, Edward Caldwell., “A Trip to Labrador: Letters and Journals of Edward Caldwell Moore.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26865.