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.

viernes, 25 de julio de 2014


Inspired by a recent discussion about if a picture which has appeared in an article the Daily Mirror on which appears a sledge with a skeleton inside is actually related or not with the Franklin expedition, I decided to offer to the public a compilation of those illustrations and paintings which I currently know which show the boat found by the McClinctock in his searching expedition and which was revisited in the subsequents ones. 

A detailed description of the boat and its content discovered by Hobson is described here and contemporary pictures of the place where it was found ade available here.

If you stop on the following pictures for a while and then you analyse all of them closely, you begin to amaze yourself finding slight differences and details among drawings which at first sight looks pretty similar.

1.- This, is the particular case of the engraving which illustrates the finding of one of the boats by the Lieutenant Hobson during the expedition of the Fox in 1857.
This illustration, from Harper's Weekly, depicts Lt. Hobson as he discovers a boat used by members of the missing Franklin Expedition. 
From the Russell Potter scan of the original: www.ric.edu/faculty/rpotter/deathfull_sm.jpg
I read in this article that this particular sketch was published in "Harper Weekly" in the 20th of october of 1850. That, of course is impossible for two main reasons, the McClintock expedition discovered the boat in his expedition of 1857 and on the other hand the newspaper "Harper´s Weekly" began its activity with that name precisely that same year, in 1857. So surely, the illustration belongs to some edition of 1859, year on which the Fox came back home.

2.- This second illustration shows the same event depicted almost identically, and surely by the same author, who by the way is unknown to me. It looks as if it were another frame of the same sequence:

“Discovery of the Franklin expedition boat.” New yorkFrom "Frozen Ocean"

In both of them you can see the same number of people, six explorers, six dogs, two sledges, two skeletons, a boat and two barrelled guns. But besides the fact that one is couloured and the other isn´t, you can notice that the postures of the men and the dogs are different. I have no idea about which newspaper was it published.

3.- Likely, based on these previous drawings, this next one was made. This time, again, six men are shown removing what could be a canvas, a coat or some clothes, to show a skeleton inside the boat. On the floor, close to the clothes are what seems to be a pair of boots. I haven´t been able to guess who was the author of this drawing, however the drawing has a name written at the bottom which seems to read "Bemable" or something like that. I leave this open to your own investigations.

4.- Here, we have another case, this one appears in the book "Finding the North Pole" published in 1909 inside the chapter"The fate of the Sir John Franklin Expedition" in the page number 310. The creepy illustration appears over the name: "McClinctock finding skeletons of Sir John Franklin´s men": 

The discovery of Franklin's party. Source: Morris, Charles: Finding the North Pole by Cook and Peary, W. E. Scull, 1909, 288.http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/history/franklin_en.html

5.- About the next one, few things I could say which wasn´t already known for those who are fond of these issues. This, is the famous painting by Thomas Smith, painted in 1895 which bears the presumptuous name: 

 "They forged the last links with their lives" 

and which is shown to the general public in the National Maritime Museum together with the disappointing scarce amount of Franklin expedition relics. 

The grey-blue faces of the men lying on the snow still tied to their ropes it is supposed to be an accurate representation of that story told by the Inuit which were witnesses of the final stages of the tragedy. That story which said that the men fell while walking. There is another detail which show us that the author was well informed, the fact that the boat is fitted with a sail which was also part of the Inuit story. 

Though I am far from being sure I have to wonder if the last man standing in this picture is carrying a Halkett boat across his shoulders. One has the temptation of thinking that he effectivley could be Crozier. If that was the intention of the painter, then this could be another wink to the Inuit accounts. 

An interesting and much richer description about this painting and about its author is available in the web page of the National Maritime Museum here".

They forged the last links with their lives': Sir John Franklin's Men Dying by Their Boat During the North-West Passage Expedition by W. Thomas Smith

6.- Another heavyweight and also well known painting related with the discovery of the boats of the Franklin expedition is that done by Julius Von Payer painted in 1897 which was named "Starvation Cove":

"Starvation Cove" by Julius Von Payer 1897

7.- This last one is represented alone together with a window on its bottom which shows several of the Franklin expedition relics found. I have no trace about what could be the origin of this one, I guess that it could have been published in some newspaper of the time. It is signed with the initials: C.W. 

If someone have any clue about its origin, please feel free to enlight me!.
I began with great illusion this post till I realised that the number of illustrations and paintings about the Franklin expedition´s boats were further less than I had previously imagined. By the time this is all I can offer you

POST POSTED (7/08/2014)

Subsequent searchings brought me this other picture of unknown origin, which, though very similar to the others posted it is essentially different. 

Robert Hobson of the McClintock expedition finds a cairn with a paper signed by Fitzjames and Crozier, dated April 25, 1848, confirming their disaster; last log of the ill-fated Franklin expedition, sent to discover the North West passage.

And finally, following the advice of Russell Potter, I have included this picture, which is not a drawing nor a painting, but it could be considered the modern equivalent of them. The photo belongs the David Egan´s play "Tom´s a cold". These characters will be the ones who will be found later skelotonized in the boat. To know more about this play, please visit the Russell´s blog following the link under the picture.

NOTE: This last picture (below) is the same than I have posted before (above), for reasons unknown to me, I can´t remove it from the post. "Mistery" is not only a word which applies the Franklin expedition.

UPDATED 25/12/2014

From The Arctic World, perhaps the more accurate representation regarding the actual size of the boat: