Adrift on an Ice-Pan

by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

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Snow and ice can present significant danger, which can produce considerable self-examination. In Adrift on an Ice-Pan, Wilfred Thomason Grenfell discusses his experience of being trapped on an ice-pan. Grenfell was an Englishman who became a doctor and decided to serve the remote populace of Labrador, comprised of fishers and villages with limited access. This book carries a very moralistic and Christian approach, and also offers conflicting thoughts and portrayals on the value of life. As Grenfell states in the introduction, “ is little book is only the story of a Doctor in the wilds. His name and his identity do not matter. They will soon be forgotten anyhow. It was only a nameless fisher-lad whose life was at issue.”

Grenfell was born in 1865 in Chester, England to a family of several distinguished scholars and members of the military. Grenfell enjoyed his childhood in a rural area, and was ingrained with a deep appreciation for nature. The advantages of family wealth and pedigree allowed him to be able to concentrate on schooling, at Marlborough College, University of London, and then an internship at London Hospital. Seeking adventure, an advisor recommended Grenfell join the National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. At the time, it served four hospitals, with isolated persons attended to by doctors driving dogsleds across a very treacherous landscape.