“It was Easter Sunday at St. Anthony in the year of 1908….” Thus Wilfred Grenfell began writing his gripping account of being adrift on an ice pan.
His booklet, which appeared in 1909, “turned into an outstanding publishing success,” according to Grenfell biographer Ronald Rompkey. It brought “a new generation of readers in touch with [his] exploits.”
The most recent edition of Adrift on an Ice Pan appeared earlier this year from Flanker Press, in St. John’s.
Edward Roberts, 11th Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, contributed the foreword. Grenfell “wrote vigorously and well,” he says.
A frontier doctor risks his life to save a patient, surviving two days and a night, lightly clad, wet and hungry, with his dogs, on an ice pan in the North Atlantic.
“If Adrift on an Ice Pan had been written as a work of fiction,” Roberts suggests, “it would have been ridiculed as being literally unbelievable.” But it is true, if somewhat embellished; the heroic and extraordinary tale, even today, continues to attract readers.
This edition includes more than twenty illustrations and photographs, as well as an account of the rescue, recited in the Newfoundland vernacular, by a member of the rescuing party. The book ends with a biographical sketch of Grenfell, written by Clarence John Blake.
“Faith, courage, insight, foresight, the power to win, and the ability to command – all of these and more of like qualities are embodied and portrayed in Dr. Grenfell,” Blake comments.