Burial of John Franklin. Author: me


Kabloonas is the way in which the Inuit who live in the north part of Canada call those who haven´t their same ascendency.

The first time i read this word was in the book "Fatal Passage" by Ken McGoogan, when, as the result of the conversations between John Rae and some inuit, and trying to find any evidence of the ill-fated Sir John Franklin Expedition, some of then mentioned that they watched how some kabloonas walked to die in the proximities of the river Great Fish.

I wish to publish this blog to order and share all those anecdotes that I´ve been finding in the arctic literature about arctic expeditions. My interest began more than 15 years ago reading a little book of my brother about north and south pole expeditions. I began reading almost all the bibliography about Antarctic expeditions and the superknown expeditions of Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton, etc. After I was captured by the Nansen, Nobile and Engineer Andree. But the most disturbing thing in that little book, full of pictures, was the two pages dedicated to the last Franklin expedition of the S.XIX, on that moment I thought that given the time on which this and others expeditions happened, few or any additional information could be obtained about it. I couldn´t imagine that after those two pages It would be a huge iceberg full of stories, unresolved misteries, anecdotes, etc. I believe that this iceberg, on the contrary than others, would continue growing instead melting.

domingo, 14 de abril de 2013


It was after reading some comments written by some friends about if the main objective of the last Franklin expedition was discovering and crossing the Northwest Passage (which of course it was) or, doing magnetic observations than again a doubt in my head has sprung.
No matter if it really was  one of the main objectives or not, it is hard to believe that, having being trapped the Erebus and Terror ships so close to the Magnetic North Pole and for so many time (see the below reference), no attempt were done in order to reach that coveted point.

 Source Wikipedia: Magnetic north pole positions of the Earth. Poles shown are dip poles, defined as positions where the direction of the magnetic field is vertical. Red circles mark magnetic north pole positions as determined by direct observation, blue circles mark positions modelled using the GUFM model (1590–1980) and the IGRF model (1980–2010) in 2 year increments.

As it is posible to see in the above picture,  the Magnetic North Pole drifted from the North to the South since the year 1600 and after1810 or so  (where, precisely and by pure coincidence, it found its  inflexión point  in the King William Island) it began to go northwards till it was reached in 1831 by James Clark Ross in the course of the John Ross expedition in the HMS Victory ship. From 1831 to 1904 it doesn´t seem that the North Pole had drifted so much, then it is plausible to imagine that its position could have been near in 1847. The Franklin expedition was even nearest from it than the Ross´es were in 1831 when they were in Felix harbor.
Then, on 25 of May of 1847 the ships were on a privileged position to reach the North Magnetic Pole, "28 of May 1847 H.M.S.hips Erebus and Terror Wintered in the Ice in Lat. 70°5'N Long. 98°.23'W". Excerpt from the Victory Point Record.
They were only 16 miles northwest of Cape Felix, from Cape Felix to the Clarence Islands there is only 14 miles and from there to the position of the North Magnetic Pole there is another 30 miles or so. We have to have into account that a White man´s cairn is described by David Woodman in the book "Unravelling the Franklin Mistery" pg. 75. This Carn can demonstrate that an attempt to reach the North Magnetic Pole was done by a sledge party from Cape Felix going eastwards. In the Wikipedia´s description of the expedition  we can find a reference about the searching of this misterious cairn, which it seems to be that it was never found:
"In 1995, an expedition was jointly organised by Woodman, George Hobson, and American adventurer Steven Trafton – with each party planning a separate search. Trafton's group travelled to the Clarence Island to investigate Inuit stories of a "white man's cairn" there but found nothing. Dr. Hobson's party, accompanied by archaeologist Margaret Bertulli, investigated the "summer camp" found a few miles to the south of Cape Felix, where some minor Franklin relics were found. Woodman, with two companions, travelled south from Wall Bay to Victory Point and investigated all likely campsites along this coast, finding only some rusted cans at a previously unknown campsite near Cape Maria Louisa. "
Aproximated position of the ships, north magnetic pole cairns and so on by Andrés Paredes in Google Earth.
If the Lieutenant Graham Gore together with Charles DesVoeux and six men reached point Victory from the ships in only three days, (16 miles to Cape Felix plus 24 from Cape Felix to Victory Point, measured in Google earth always as the crow flies),  it is fair to asume that the Franklin expedition had established a base camp in Cape Felix to launch from there several sledges parties towards different points, for example toward the west coast of KWI (Victory point), towards the east coast of KWI (as other relics found there seems to demonstrate), and of course towards the North Magnetic Pole which should be then some miles north of the point reached by J.C.Ross in 1831.

Position of the ships, North magnetic pole in 1831 and the Victory Point by Andrés Paredes in Google Earth.
Then, and here comes my conclusión, I think that, the men of the last Franklin expedition could well and easily having reached the North Magnetic Pole in the summer of 1847 when the things on board still were "All Well", and that if someone, someday is able to establish the exact position of the North Magnetic Pole the year of 1847, they will find there (hopefully and for my understanding, LIKELY) the rests of a sledge party camp and perhaps the rests of another observation Cairn and they could then add to the rest of the achievements asigned to their expedition, the fact of having reached, again, this Grial of the magnetic observations and science.

viernes, 5 de abril de 2013


Among the long list of "first discoverers" or "the first on crossing" the Northwest Passage (NWP), the name of Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pim, perhaps could be one of the less named by the historians and for those who had been always arguing about "who  was really the first" on discovering or crossing the path across the frozen labirynth. But he really was one of them, one of those who could be named "one of the first".

Leaving apart the discussion about if it was S.J. Franklin or the Dr. Rae the first on discovering the South NWP (I prefer not to mention here Francisco Ferrer Maldonado in order to avoid blushing myself), it is undoubtely McLure, who must wear the laurels of having been the first on joining all, till the date, lost points of that singular, dangerous and frozen puzzle which conforms the North NWP.
He reached the farthest point gained by Parry in 1819 in Winter Harbour in the Melville Island and he leaves proofs there under a Cairn to demonstrate his succes on having linked the both ends of that broken rope. This same message was later the key for his rescue. 
But, McLure, also wears the laurels of having been the first on doing the first crossing of the passage from its east side to the west, part on his own ship (HMS Investigator till it was abandoned in Mercy Bay), part on foot over the ice, and part on the ships of the Edward Belcher rescue expedition. And it is here where it grows my doubt.

It was Bedford Pim who found the desperate McClure, just on time before he will send the weakest men of his crew towards a certain dead, (this assertion could be discussed on later posts, because as always, there are some extenuating circunstances which could justify such apparent cruel decission).

Bedford Pim appeared in the scene of the McLure Drama in such way:

"While walking near the ship, in conversation with the first Lieutenant upon the subject of digging a grave for the man who died yesterday, and discussing how we could cut a grave in the ground whilst it was so hardly froze- a subject we perceived a figure walking rapidly towards us from the rough ice at the entrance of the bay. From his pace and gestures we both naturally supposed at first that he was some one of ourparty pursued by a bear, but as we approached him doubts arose as to who it could be"

Of course it was Bedford Pim who, with 27 years old, had reached the HMS Investigator in april of 1853. He had walked from Dealy Island (in front of Melville Island) where the HMS Resolute had wintered (more tan 200 miles as the crow flies). The rest of the description of that encounter is impressive, and I reccomend its Reading (pg. 289 Discovery of the Northwest Passage by McLure).

Then, here it is where has raised the seed of a doubt into my brain. Of course it was Robert McLure who joined the lost points and those laurels must be attached fixedly to his head, but before he crossed the passage towards the east, Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pim had previously walked all that way towards the west. Yes, I know, it is true, he returns from this point to his ships in Dealy Island, so he couldn´t wear by himself the honour of being the first on crossing the NWP, ...then?.

Then, my doubt is:

Is it fair assigning the title of being the first on crossing the NWP only to Mc Lure?

Or perhaps it would it be more fair consider that it was a dual accomplishment?.

At the end Pim had traveled aproximately 850 miles  from the east end of Lancaster sound (which could be considered the east end of the NWP) versus the 350 miles sailed by McLure from what we could consider the entrance of the east side of the NWP, the Baillie Islands to Mercy Bay.

In my opinión, the first crossing of the NWP corresponds two thirds to Bedford Pim and one third to Robert McLure.

Besides these considerations, it is interesting to mention here that Bedford Pim, before being involved in the Edward Belcher expedition did an extraordinary effort trying to organize a searching expedition to locate the Erebus and Terror ships in the north Russian shores. The reason? because he thought that Franklin could have gone through the Wellington chanel towards the North Pole, and on havong encountered there a free ice sea, he could have reached those distant shores. There is an interesting article about the posible location of the Erebus and Terror ships in hte Russian waters here: http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic45-1-36.pdf. There is also a later manifest on which Bedford Pim tries to expose more reasons to clarify the fate of the men of the Franklin expedition, the doccument is called: "An earnest appeal to the British public on behalf of the missing Arctic expedition"

But all this thing is, as it is said in the "Neverending story", another tale.