Jessie Luther (1860-1952) and Grenfell Industries, St Anthony, Newfoundland


Grenfell Handicrafts (1984 Ltd.)
PO Box 280 4 Maravel Road St. Anthony, NL A0K 4S0

As a young artist, Jessie Luther developed her passion for arts and crafts at the Hull House’s Labor Museum in Chicago. Later she accepted an invitation from Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, a Canadian physician, after he saw the work she was developing in Marblehead, MA. With Dr. Herbert Hall, Luther had initiated a Handicraft Shop as an alternative treatment for depression. Luther took leave from occupational therapy to travel annually to Newfoundland and Labrador setting up small costal studios primarily for the fisherman’s wives in order to help them supplement their family’s income during the harsh winters. “Luther’s non-medical approach focused on enhancing the community’s abilities to function more fully in everyday life” (Head & Friedland, 2011). Luther’s efforts to teach weaving, carving, metal work, pottery, carpentry, basket weaving, and hooked mats led to the establishment of Grenfell Industries. The social enterprise, which included retail outlets in England, the USA and Canada helped to fund the project and support the local artisans. Grenfell Mission staff came from many different countries and backgrounds as students were recruited to work along side Jessie Luther.

Head, B. & Friedland, J. (2011). Jessie Luther: A Pioneer for Social Justice, Occupational Therapy Now 13.1.

Rompkey, R. (Ed). (2001). Jessie Luther at the Grenfell Mission. Montreal:McGill- Queen’s University Press.


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