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Grenfell Shed and Wharf Municipal Heritage Site

Mary's Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/05/31

View of Grenfell Shed and Wharf in Mary's Harbour. ; Town of Mary's Harbour 2006
Grenfell Shed and Wharf, Mary's Harbour, Labrador
View of front facade of the Grenfell Shed and Wharf in Mary's Harbour, view looking landward. ; Town of Mary's Harbour 2006
Grenfell Shed and Wharf, Mary's Harbour, Labrador
View of Grenfell Shed and Wharf in Mary's Harbour, view from the water. Photo taken November 2005.; HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2005
Grenfell Shed and Wharf, Mary's Harbour, Labrador

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/08/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Grenfell Shed and Wharf is comprised of a wooden two storey building with a low pitched roof and a wooden wharf. Constructed circa 1930, the property is located along the shoreline of Mary’s Harbour, Labrador. The designation is confined to the footprints of the shed and wharf.

Heritage Value

The Grenfell Shed and Wharf has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Mary's Harbour because of its historical, cultural and aesthetic values.

The Grenfell Shed and Wharf is of historical importance because of its ties to the International Grenfell Association (IGA), a missionary society founded by Sir Wilfred Grenfell. Grenfell first came to Newfoundland as part of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen in 1892. He was appalled at the levels of poverty endured by fishing families along the coasts of northern Newfoundland and southern Labrador. He returned the next year with two doctors and two nurses, and then each summer thereafter, working towards improving the medical services and social conditions. The IGA was incorporated in 1914 and operated four hospitals and six nursing stations in the region.

The IGA built a hospital and boarding school in Mary's Harbour in 1930, after a devastating fire claimed a number of buildings in Battle Harbour, the de facto capital of the Labrador floater fishery. The Grenfell Shed and Wharf were amongst the first permanent structures erected in the Mary’s Harbour, used as a dock for vessels carrying supplies and patients to and from the hospital.

The Grenfell Shed and Wharf is culturally important as a physical reminder of the period that saw a shift from seasonal to permanent settlement in Mary's Harbour. St. Mary's River was frequented by European fishermen as early as the 1780s, and for centuries fishing families spent summers at the coastlines closest to fishing grounds, moving up the bays to hunt and trap in winter. Mary's Harbour remained a winter camp until the IGA built the hospital. While seasonal occupation continued to be a vital part of the culture of its residents, the community had 18 permanent residents by 1935, most of who were connected to the operation of IGA facilities. With the establishment of the hospital and supporting infrastructure Mary's Harbour became a regional centre for IGA services.

The Grenfell Shed and Wharf have aesthetic value due to their vernacular design and landmark status. With their simple design elements and utilitarian construction techniques, the structures have a vernacular style once common along the southeast coast of Labrador. The use of traditional materials adds further value to the structures. The shed is constructed with narrow wooden clapboard, and sits on wooden posts, while the wharf is constructed with a wooden plank and log deck and is supported with wooden cribbing and post supports. Few such structures remain in their original form and condition in the region. Built to withstand harsh weather, the Grenfell Shed and Wharf stand as a testament to the skill of its builders. And, the structures have notable landmark status, being located along the main road and visible from seaward approaches to Mary’s Harbour.

Source: Town of Mary's Harbour Regular Council Meeting #06-507, May 31, 2006.

Character-Defining Elements

All elements that define the shed’s age, simple vernacular design and historic functions including:
-original form, scale and massing of shed;
-low pitch roof;
-number of storeys;
-wood frame construction with narrow horizontal clapboard siding and vertical corner boards;
-white exterior colour with green trim;
-simple door and window trims;
-window size, style and placement;
-size, style and placement of exterior doors;
-wooden post building supports;
-dimension, location and orientation of building;
-its location along the shores of Mary’s Harbour;
-unobstructed view from Main Road and from seaward approaches; and
-association with International Grenfell Association as exhibited in its name.

All elements that define the wharf’s simple vernacular design and historic functions including:
-wooden plank and log deck;
-wooden cribbing and post supports;
-position of wharf in relation to shed;
-original form, scale and massing of wharf; and
-dimension, location and orientation of wharf.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Health and Research
Hospital or Other Health Care Institution

Architect / Designer



International Grenfell Association

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street St. John's, NL A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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