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.

sábado, 29 de diciembre de 2012


I´ve just finished one of the indispensables, the desired book "Unravelling the Franklin Mistery. Inuit Testimony". Of course, there is no need to say that the book is superb. This volume is a compilation of all the Inuit testimonies given by them to the explorers who came near the area of the disaster few years after their disappearance: John Rae, McClintok, Francis Hall, etc.

On this book you can find an elaborated justification about how real could be all the pieces of the story about the last years of the Franklin Expedition narrated between the succesive generations of Inuit families.

This is not an easy task, there is a large amount of Inuit people which were witnesses of different scenes of this tragedy. They were told one hundred and sixty years ago, some of them told into an igloo or into a tent pitched over the snow, in the middle of a complete darkness and in front of a fat burner while a snow gale was blowing with rage outside (this recreation is inorder to create the proper enviroment). The names of this Inuit men are indecipherable for us, the "kabloonas", at least for those who have never had a close relation ship with their culture and traditions, the same happens with the places which were the stages of the worst and more dreadful moments of this terror play.

The collection of testimonies have generated on my head the illusion of a dream, because all of them are told sequentally as separated parts of the same story or as unlinked pieces of different stories.

I imagine black and white scenes on which some hungry men were seen at certain distance walking on the snow dragging a boat with a sail. I can also see short conversations  held during several cold nights between this two so different worlds, the Inuit and the Navy men. In other occasions, I´ve seen desolated camps with tents full of frozen men lying as if they were asleep, really "frozen in time", still wearing their blue clothes, skins, hair and whiskers, I´ve seen isolated graves on lonely shores, boats surrounded of hundreds of strange artifacts. I´ve even seen the ships, ghost ships, trapped on the ice, and I´ve seen them being visited by some of the most bold Inuit men.

I woke up, sweating while the wind was blowing outside my window, knowing that some of these terrifying remains and that some of these narrations would later demonstrate, that in their last days, part of these men were reduced  to resort to drastic solutions to stay alive. These men did things that could prefectly feed a terror novel or movie if you think about them while sitting comfortably warm in your home with your stomach  full, but this things looks on a completely different way when you are seeing how your bones appear under your skin and nearly breaking it, when you have lost all your teeth and eating is a punishment for your gums, when you are at ten degrees celsius below zero and you have to walk on the snow till your knees and at one thousand miles far from any available help.

In my modest opinion, as an amateur on these issues, is that this book is a thorough analysis which tries to rescue and justify the reality of this testimonies before of throwing them to the recycle bin and store them there forever.

There are much more profesional reviews made by Richard Davis on the Arctic Institute of North America here and on the  Manitoba Historical Society  here.

And if finally you are interested on buying it you can find it at least here:


or here:


and in a lot of places more.

miércoles, 5 de diciembre de 2012


It was in the year 1826 when the HMS Erebus saw the light for first time and it was nineteen years after, as a rebel teenager, when the HMS Erebus would get out far from her home definetely towards her last trip.
Pemborke dock_Milford Haven from: http://www.naval-history.net/

Her mother, the Pembroke dock shipyard, located in Pemborkeshire in Wales, had its origin in 1757, when the Admiralty sent a delegation to the private shipyard of Jacobs situated on Milford Haven with the intention of manage it. Time after,  George, the Prince regent instead his insane father George III, took it under the control of the Navy. This happened in October of 1815, soon after the Waterloo battle against Napoleon.
The Pembroke Shipyard was a modest and specialized one, it had only a dry dock but it had a prolific production. Pembroke produced other famous arctic ships. Besides the HMS Erebus, the Alert was also built in 1856 and was the ship on which Nares wintered in Floeberg Beach in 1875 at a very high latitude.
Reading the detailed biograhy of this place on the link above, we realized that in some sense this shipyard was doomed, a lot of its "children" died by the effect of the fire, were wrecked or simply were lost forever in the arctic or in the middle of the ocean. Reading its history one only can wonder if the poor men of the HMS Erebus were victims of some kind of gnarled hex.
Some paintings of the docks are available here (links below). They were made on the nineteen century, one of them in 1851, while perhaps some men of the Franklin expedition were still struggling for their lives.
It is shocking, if you take some minutes to think on it, how strange is the contrast between the peace and tranquility which this pictures inspire and the horrid moments which were happening thousand of miles northwest of this place in the well known, for much of us, place of the shores of King William Island.
Watching this paintings you never could have imagined that this site would be the origin of so much suffering and mistery:

domingo, 4 de noviembre de 2012


The arctic is a dangerous place, the main enemies you can find are the weather conditions, the extreme cold, strong gales and winds, icebergs, the tramps  of ice  for ships in the straits, etc. but,  other dangers walk and run over the ice floes and over the ground and have been also, a lot of times,  a cause of tragedy since the beginnings of the exploration.

Reading the book writen by Frederick William Beechey "A voyage of discovery towards the North Pole", about the expediton towards the North Pole commanded by David Buchan, it is curious how he mention an accident, or a tragedy depending on the point of view, which happened to William Barents during his second voyage near Nova Zembla.

Frederick William Beechey : From the wikipedia.
 In this narration, which have captivated me since the moment on which I read the first pages, Frederick tells how the crew of Barents were attacked by a polar bear. In the course of an exploration party in order to find some "diamond like" stones, two of the men were lying on the ice resting, then a polar bear appeared and caught one of them by the neck. The poor man, unaware of that he was being attacked by a huge polar bear shout: "Who is it that pulls me so by the neck?"· that were his latest words, a moment after the polar bear bit his head. The other mate run away and the rest of the men on the ice, twenty in total, came to his aid.
Though they carried their charged weapons and their pikes prepared, they were attacked by the bear which caught another man. The death of this second man is lively described by Barents as follows "...which she (the bear) tore into pieces", an awful death. The men run away after this attack.

Barents and other mates which were on the ships, took a boat and tried to encourage the crew to try to kill the bear, only four of them were brave enough to fight against her. They shot in her forehead between the eyes, and hit her with axes several times. The bear had the corpse of the man still on her claws, not was until a man hit strongly into her snout, that the bear finally fell and released the dead man.

Crew of the Barents´s expeditions against the Polar bear_From the wikipedia.

Numerous times we have heard about attacks or threats of this big, brutal, agressive but also strong, brave,  elegant and magnificient animals to the humans, even while Jhon Geiger  and Owen Beattie and were in Beechey Island a polar bear approach inadvertenly to the camp. The expedition of the Ingeneer Andree was supossed to be attacked by another bear, Nansen dealed with them several times in the course of his trip towards the North Pole.

Polar Bear_From the wikipedia.

In the end, the arctic is its natural place to live, we, the Kabloonas, are no more but invaders which from the point of view of the Polar Bear are no more than fresh, original and strange food which with no doubt must be of a remarkably bad taste. I think that they had all the rights to eat us if they consider it appropiate for the occasion.

martes, 16 de octubre de 2012


Lorenzo Ferrer Maldonado still today is playing one of his final tricks, the alleged first discoverer of the North west passage is trying to elude me.

Course of the expedition of Lorenzo Ferrer maldonado.
As his biography says Lorenzo Ferrer Maldonado died in Madrid, where he lived, in 1625, in a inn in the "Silva" Street and by fullfiling of his will he was buried in the church of the Ntra. Sra. of the parish of San Martín. Which is supossed to be in the Desengaño street.

StMartin(the new) c/Desengaño.
There are confusing information about his history, in some places I´ve read that he was living his final days in an inn and that the family "Henestrosa" (his family) had a chapel in the church of St.Martin the Tours of the Benedictines, which is placed in the text of the biography wrongly in the Desengaño street (wrongly because in that time there wasn´t any St Martin church there as we are going to read after). In other account I´ve read that because his house belongs to the church of St Martin (in that time placed in the St.Martin Square, now "The Descalzas" square) he was buried there.

Yesterday evening I went to the current place where it is the current St.Martin church to look for the covetted tomb, but for my dissapointment (due to my inexperience as researcher I act first, ask after and find nothing) I found nothing. I asked to a nun who was there and she said to me that the original church of St Martin (placed in the Descalzas square) was destroyed by order of Napoleon while Jose I Bonaparte was governing in Spain just to "make room" to new buildings. So, this new church of St Martin only wears the name and the tradition of the original church. This new St Martin  was occupied by this parish in 1836 and built some time before.

But... I am not absolutely sure that Lorenzo was buried in the original church of St Martin (in the Descalzas square) neither, because the inn where he lived his last years was very close to the place in which the new St Martin is but some far distance  from the original St Martin church of 1625 where he was supposedly buried. It could be a confusion if the byographer was refering to the place  of the burial by the name of the current church.

Monastery of the "Descalzas Reales", Descalzas square (before St martin church and square).
And, to complicate more the things, very close to the Silva street is the church of St Idelfonso, a temple constructed as a subsidary of the parish of St Martin from the Descalzas (the original), but...it was built in the years surrounding 1629, four years after his death but this date is not absolutely sure, a pity, it is in fact a good candidate to be the correct place but in this case with an uncorrect name.

The conclusion is that I am still trying to guess where his grave was placed, and if the tomb still exists, that means, if he was buried in the original St Martin church, his remains are likely lost forever or were placed in other site before the demolition, but if he was buried in the place where St Martin is currently situated, he wouldl be lost the same, because that nun said to me that the crypt was emptied in front of a notary after the new parish came to occupy it and that there weren´t any corpse in the crypt. And finally, if St Idelfonso was the place where he was really buried, then Lorenzo premeried a good place to stay forever, though, again the current church isn´t the original, so if this is the real place, the grave could have been lost again. (However I will go there to check it on the spot).

Fourtunately I have a friend specialized in the old Madrid, so I still have a chance to discover the correct place, thanks to him I discovered (more or less) where Lady Franklin slept when he was here in the Puerta del Sol, the missing "Hotel de los Príncipes".

sábado, 6 de octubre de 2012


At last I´ve finished the book of Anthony Brandt, I bought it in London without having read any review about it, (a risk if you consider the large amount of Franklin books available in the market) but the cover captivated me, and I fell into its claws. It has taken me so long read it because I began, soon after  beginning  to read it, reading at the same time "Arctic labyrinth" by Glyn Williams.

In my opinion this is a very good book to make yourself an idea about the different expeditions led by John Franklin and a lot more related. The book is full on transcriptions of the original narrations  of the voyages and, from my modest knowledge of english, it is well written, so that you can follow the neverending secuence of expeditions without being lost and without getting tired. However, I think that it lack of maps, hardly three or four maps in the whole text, helps you to find yourself in the arctic. A lot of geographical names which are mentioned don´t appear in the maps, so  you are unable to identify, without a near laptop to check the places, where exactly you are sailing or dragging a sledge. 

Another good thing is the summary of the expeditions that you can find at the beggining of the book, which also helps to check once and another who was the first on reaching and discovering each place and in what date. And finally, there is an unvaluable chapter called "Sources" on which the author reveals the sources of information of every part of the book which has been narrated, so you can get deep, if you are interested, on a particular part.

CONCLUSION: In my opinion It is a book recomended, specially if you are beginning in widening your knowledge about the arctic, or if you were captured by the last and lost Franklin  expedition and you want to learn more about his former journeys and to put order in the other main expeditions that forged the discovery of the different Northwest Passages.

martes, 2 de octubre de 2012


I have to ask sorry again, for the sensationalist title, but it is in order to capture your attention, a more appropiated title would have been "L.F: MALDONADO, LIFE AND MIRACLES".

Now that there are some interesting, very interesting, I would say, discussions about the neverending subject of "Who was the actual discoverer of the Northwest Passage" (NWP for the friends), in the Russell blog or in the Ken McGoogan blog, I´ve taken advantage of this situation to show to all of you a strange and curious story which is intimately relationated with this.

This is the story of a strange man, a Spanish man, who, someday, claimed having crossed the NWP. Yes, folks, and he even deserves a book, I´ve only found a Spanish version, ...and perhaps I can read it when its turn came, likely in the year 2028, year more or year less. The review says that, even today, his trip is being discussed, perhaps this would be a good moment to arise another pugil to the fight, a pugil that had almost three hundred years of advantage.

Well, here comes the story,please stay five minutes to read this and learn something that it is probably completely new for both, for you and me.
It was the day 10th of august of 1557 when Lorenzo was born in Berja, Almería, Spain. Son of a soldier, Lorenzo, at his age of fourteen went as an arquebusier to Barcelona to join the Navy and fight against the Turkish in the Lepanto Battle. After the battle, Lorenzo with fifteen years old stayed in Mesina working to the Micer Joao Martines copying nautical charts and repairing old codices.

With eighteen years old, Lorenzo began his career as merchant in Cartagena together with Micer Martines. Soon after he went to Sevilla where he learn the arts of the navigation from Rodrigo Zamorano, the most important authority of the "La casa de contratación" (contract house) in that moment. He earned there his nautical title and he could go as Captain to the Philipine islands.
After that, he returned to Guadix, the town where the rest of his family were having bad times, he stayed there as a "Jurado", falsified some documents to recover some lands that the Spanish had won to the Moriscos in the previous wars. After this lamentable action, he got married with Isacia de Zafarraya y Montiel  who died when she was given birth a child.

Then Lorenzo, deeply shocked departed in the 21 of march of 1588 on board the nao "Stella" to the arctic to participate in the fur trade. It was this voyage when he, allegedly, crossed the strait of Anian between the Atlantic ocean and the Pacific Ocean, as he told to the king Felipe III. After an eventful life, he died in 1625 and was buried in Madrid in the Desengaño street. ( I promise you to publish a photo of his grave when I can go there to visit it).
There never were any official version about this achievement. His information was inaccurate and full of contradictions and the latitudes and distances impossible.  His voyage was considered false then.

The story is well narrated here, and there are more details about his life here, but in Spanish, I summarize the main points here:

Starting from the port of Lisboa to the Labrador peninsula, he cross the Davis Strait and the Baffin bay, he said get into the arctic islands, gate of the arctic ocean and then changed the course to the southwest after arriving at it. After finding earth, he found the Anian Strait. He said that the sun had been shining all the day and that they had had a fair temperature.

Lorenzo Ferrer Maldonado, in the illustrated circles was considered  a deceiver because he had offered to the Royal court several fantastic artifices or machines that he never could make indeed. For example, the first fixed compass to navigate or, no less fantastic, the "Salomon clavicle" able to transform any metal in gold.

To tell the truth, this things tell few about his reliability but says much about his fanciful imagination and personality.

His account of the voyage is here, unfortunately only available in Spanish, but as the book is free available because it was written in 1866, I will transcript its content soon for those who are curious.

Here and here we have a thorough analysis that determines the falsehood of their achievement.

Just to plant a seed of doubt, Bauche de la Neuville, in 1789, a greatly known French cartographer, defended in the Science academy of Paris, the veracity of the maldonado voyage. Soon after, Malaspina and Alcalá Galiano went to prove the issue (All of you remember from my old post that Alcala fought in Trafalgar, ship side by ship side, with Franklin and that his son had an affair with Lady Franklin, Isn´t it?),.
If the intention of Bauche, was to provoke a new expedition or if in fact he believed the narration of maldonado, it eludes me. I suppose that if nobody have ever claimed a review of this process is because we have few posibilities to win this battle, a battle of more than a hundred years, but ...Who knows?.  What if this is only the beginning?.

viernes, 28 de septiembre de 2012


I´ve found this mistery ship in the middle of a collection of photos which came from the Toronto Public Library. This ship appears without date and without author. I wonder what ship could her be...


The photograph could be (by its quality) of the end of the S.XIX or the begining of the S.XX. The ship is a steam ship and it is beset in the ice. In the front of the ship are a man and what seems to be a boat or a sledge.

But, besides finding this little mistery, I´ve found this interesting web site, that perhaps a lot of you already knows, is this:


I am sure that you are going to find it as interesting as I believe it is. There are a lot of ancient maps and rare sketches.

sábado, 22 de septiembre de 2012


Nobody can say that the arctic isn´t full of strange coincidences and nice stories about  strong friendship and eternal love that can even make you forget the dark side of this remote countries.

In 1821 George Back, one of the two suitors of the Indian woman "Greenstockings" (take a look at this old post to remember ) was rejected by her, and after trying to challenge to a duel at Robert Hood, he was sent by Franklin towards that famous trip of more than one thousand miles (as say the song) which would be one of the main achievements of his life. 

In 1834, thirteen years after this broken love, George Back, in the course of the rescue expedition for John Ross, re encountered his old beloved. 

The fact was materialised by George in a vivid way, as he usually did,  in a chapter which is charmingly called "Indian Belle" . One cold and foggy day, groups of Indians sought shelter in their tents, or were forming groups in the open air near fires in one of their camps.

George called her by his name when he recognise her in the middle of one of those group of Indians. Greenstockings was carrying a little child in his back. George call him  "urchin" in his narration. Nothing is said about his age, but obviously Greenstockings wasn´t carrying the daugther of Robert Hood at her back, she had to have thirteen years at that time.

Greenstockings laughed when George called her by his name. She said to him literally that "she was an old woman now". The Indians were suffering from starvation and cold, those winters (1833 and 1834)  were particularly extreme, they reached temperatures under 70 degrees below zero. After begging for help to their doctor, George could make her a portrait. In his own words Greenstockings had still the beauty which she had in the past. 

"However, notwithstanding all this, she was still the beauty of her tribe ; and, with that consciousness which belongs to all belles, savage or polite, seemed by no means displeased when I sketched her portrait."

You can read directly from his journal here in the pages 306 and 307.

This is, in my opinion, a fine story which bring some warm to the extremely coldness of the arctic and to our hearts.

lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2012

EXPAND YOUR LIBRARY (Edited version)

Are you tired of reading ancient journals in your e-book? or of buying books coldly via Amazon?

Do you like to feel the hardcover of a really old book in your hands?

Then you have to walk and walk again, enter in the old book shops and wander into them and ask for the travel section. Sometimes you can be surprised, and suddenly find yourself holding a very old book in your hands. In this moment you can feel several different sensations.

I´ve found this evening the second volume of the original first edition of  "Farthest North". its back cover was very spoiled, but it increased my feeling that I had in my hands an old book with a long and secret life. I´ve could admire its wonderful cover and the golden edges in its pages. I´ve enjoyed that moment.

I´ve  also felt a strange and ancient sensation as if I were holding "The neverending story". As if I could open that book and then, being tele-transported directly to the arctic ice...

Photo of "Farthest North" From "Beautiful books"  http://www.bibliopedant.com/
A beautiful web site to take a walk, indeed.
I haven´t bought it although its price was only 30 €. I wanted to check before its real price in the web.

In the "rare book shops" the cost per volume can vary from 200 $ to 50 $, so I have to think a little about it. I don´t think that there will be a long row of people asking for the book tomorrow in the shop .

The book in fact is magnific, if you want to read it and to watch the sketches you can do it for free here.

The re-edition is available in amazon much cheaper, but...what about having the feeling of holding a book which was made two years after Nansen came back?.

I´ve found a site where you can found a lot of this rare books, and even if you don´t want to buy any of them, at least you can take a look to see how this books looks like when they where originally published.

The site is this: http://chetrossrarebooks.com/catalog/arctic/

miércoles, 12 de septiembre de 2012


Death of Willoughby by an unknown artist. From Wikipedia.
Of course a lot of you are aware of this sad piece of history which was related in part by their own main actors and in part by the rescuers.

I am refering to the Hugh Willoughby expedition. Close to three hundred years before the well known last Franklin Expedition, sixty three people died by unknown causes near the shores of New Zembla.

In the year 1553 three ships depart from London, in the middle of a big noise and in a cloud of best whises.

Their objective was crossing the Northeast passage in the name of a recently formed company. A company mainly by the same explorers which participated in the expedition. The company had the improbable name of "The Mystery, Company, and Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places Unknown" (Adventurers in the sense of the people who did risky investments).

Hugh Willoughby was in the Bona Esperanza when a sudden whirlwind separated the ships and the destiny sent one of them to the success while the other two were sent to a strange disaster. Richard Chancellor, the pilot of the expedition and one of the shareholders of the company, reached the coastline of Russia with his ship, the lucky one, (Bona Confidentia of 90 tons) through the white sea. He traveled towards Moscow and negotiated there the first trade agreements with the Tsar. 

Unfortunately the other two ships (Bona Esperanza and the Edward Bonaventure of 120 and 160 tons respectively) compensated this blow of good luck. The ships were beset by the ice after having sailed over the parallel 72 in the Barents  sea. The next spring a Russian fisher found the ships. There were no noise, no words, no movement on board, nothing.

Everybody was dead inside them. The fishers found the Willoughby´s will. From it is known that in January of 1554 the crews were already alive. They were all on board and dead, some phrases writen on the edge of the pages of his journal have thrown few information.

The official explanation told that the whole crews have died because the cold. Actual theories talk about a possible intoxication because the carbon monoxide

The chilling fact was that the corpses of the sailors were found as if they were killed misteriously in seconds by an occult hand. Some of them were found dead seated while writing with the pen still in their hands, others even with the spoon into his mouth and also seated at the table.

My theory, I have always a theory, is that likely the crew died little by little, and that perhaps the only and last man standing began to go mad because the desperate situation.

Think about that, you, the only man alive in two ships trapped into the ice in the far north. All your  dead mates are surrounding you, extreme cold,... perhaps this man would become really crazy and tried to place all the things around him as if they were normal. He put at his own mates into natural positions just to be sinisterly accompanied.

I can´t avoid thinking in the film "Beau Geste", when the French soldiers remaining alive  put their dead mates into the portholes (or embrasures) of the castle to show the arabs that they were more in number.

I´ve read about this particular aspect of the expedition recently in a wonderful book that I am reading nowadays which is called "Arctic Labirynth".

Another curiosity about this expedition is found in the book by Jeanette Mirsky called "Mirsky, To the Arctic" is that the hull of the ships were covered by lead plates, they were in fact the first ships of having this kind of protection, (against the worms of the indian seas, not against the ice...) Another reason for the disaster? Who knows.


While I am preparing a more thorough post about any other thing. I want to share with you this web site which I´ve recently discovered.

The page have several parts, but I like particularly the section which is called "Their Voyages". You can find there a map which is updated with new information with routes of expeditions (not only arctic expeditions I am afraid). You can chose the period you want to see (with the below bar moving the "Year" buttons) and you can watch how new routes appear in the map with information about their explorers when you make zoom over any of them.

The place is this: ROUTES I hope ypu will enjoy it

domingo, 26 de agosto de 2012


Some people are frustrated (me including) because the only written record found till now only serves to draft the big tragedy that followed the abandoning of the ships. This paper sheet (two, if we consider the copy) is the prelude of an awful story which the remains found in the same island over the years would demonstrate subsequently. The information is much if you consider that the author used only a few phrases to define the situation. The paper was written twice in two different years.

It is well known that the first entry on the message found in a tin in Victory point says the following:

 "Sir John Franklin commanding the Expedition.  All well

This can make you think that the things on the 28th of may of 1847 were going really well. However, I think that the fact of pointing who was in that time really commanding the expedition is strange. For me is a paradoxical thing and a matter of conjecture. What was the need to mention that if "all was well"?.

 I think that the author wanted to say really :

                                  "Sir John Franklin is still commanding the Expedition. All well

What supports my idea is that two weeks after Franklin was died. I really think that this note has more content than the merely is written and visible.

Another question is the single afirmation "all well". I am not an English speaking person so I cannot deduce many things, but I supposse that there is better ways to define a situation if the things are going really well, reasonable well (as it seems to mean this second affirmation) or if that the things are starting to worsen quickly. 

I think that both affirmations meaning that Franklin was indeed ill or very weak on that time but that he was still giving orders to his crews, and that "all well" means that the situation was turning desperate. Because the note was prepared to endure a lot of time, many years, waiting to be found for other explorers or a rescue expedition, probably, and with the previous experience about the Barrow criticals to the journals writen by the "weak" explorers, (who described desperate situations literally), likely the author wanted to keep some prudency on written it.

So, in my modest opinion, the hidden message, is that in the end of may of 1847, almost two exact years after departing, the situation was actually and indeed "All bad".

John Franklin from a painting of him. Author: me.

viernes, 24 de agosto de 2012


Dear collegues:

Here you have a beautiful jewell (even with a zoom tool) to make your own suppositions.

The detailed map with the explorers finds about the last Franklin expedition in KWI:


Is fresh like fish recently caught fish!! for those which aren´t in facebook...I´ve learned the existence of the searching expedition from the specific site dedicated to the last Franklin expedition on which I recomend to sign up to be alert of the fresh news:

This is the site in CBC news dedicated to the new searching expedition:


I hope you will enjoy it!!

I am sure that we are going to have also fresh news from the lost ships in a short time...

martes, 21 de agosto de 2012


I am happier with this version,  and in my defense I have to say that I allways do freehand drawing. Never tracing!!.

There is no added value only copying photos, but if I am able to capture the gestures, perhaps I could put them in other angles and postures to do the sketches of the expedition which I mentioned in the other post.

domingo, 19 de agosto de 2012


I have to say that we have a new light over the dark sky about the mistery of the Franklin last and lost expedition.

It rises over the horizon as a new blog that promises to illuminate at least part of the darkness that surround this tragedy, mistery and fateful expedition.

The blog is called "Stars over Ice", and the site is this: http://starsoverice.blogspot.com.es/

About the author, I can say that I am personally learning a lot things from her thanks to her kindness, generosity and deep knowledge about this issues. She has been a loyal partaker and follower of my own site  (a thing that I thank to her strongly) and now I am going to be a faithful follower of the hers.

I think that now that she had decided to create her own site, we are going to learn a  lot of things from this tireless Franklinst. 

Enjoy it!!!

miércoles, 15 de agosto de 2012


Here we have James Fitzjames. Let me be hard with myself and self -critical (is the way to improve).

My drawing reminds me more of the father of the Adams family (with all my respects for him, of course) rather than the real J.Fitzjames....but at least his impossible hair and the uniform are similar. The original picture is here.

Again I crash with the problem of the eyes. It is a matter of practice, practice and more practice, specially if you are an untrained cartoonist as it is my case.(Feel free of making any constructive comment to me).

This man is defined as "the mistery man of the Franklin Expedition" in the title of the book of William Battersby, I think that because of the several ´gaps´ or ´lapsus´ existing in the path of his live, including the fact of their appointment as the second in command with Franklin in his last expedition . 

There is a web page dedicated to him and to the book mentioned before created by William Battersby here :  http://www.jamesfitzjames.net/default.html.

I have the book over my table waiting to be reading soon and I have to say that I am anxious to read it. Again, I have to redirect my post to a thorough review of this book which only increases my anxiety of reading it. I can assure you that is a hard task to decide what is the next arctic or ´Franklin´ book to read because the list is inmense and not all of them are good enough. This year I´ve been focused on the 1819´s Coppermine Expedition of Franklin, and it is hard to leave apart the two journals which I had also waiting, the George Back and Richardson ones edited by C.S: Houston, but it is good to change of focus once in a while.

There are other books about this man, one is called "North with Franklin: The lost journals of James Fitzjames" and the original "The last journal of Captain James Fitzjames".

If there is no patience enough to read the book in order to know better this man, there is a short, and more or less complete biography  here, though I recommend to contrast oportunately its content. 

What seems to be true is that he had a sharp sense of humour and that he had some kind of emotional intelligent as it seems that can be deduced from some of his commentaries about his mates.

To finish this comment, and while I am advancing in the knowledge of the careers, personality and character of these men, I think that far from other considerations that have been told about this expedition, the team seems to be an excellent body of people, hard, prepared, experienced, clever, etc. In fact the conditions had to be very hard, and obviously they fought against a certain death during several years and achieved to survive despite all this time being ill. It is impossible to imagine how would you feel walking on that desolate land dragging an absurdly heavy boat, extremely ill, starved and with your moral absolutely destroyed watching how your collegues are falling every day besides yo.

Likely If I were one of these officers selected to join the expedition and with the knowledge they had, I hadn´t chose any other better companions to afford that calamity.

lunes, 13 de agosto de 2012


Well, this is my own representation of James Reid, the ice master of the HMS Erebus.  The original picture is here. Again the drawing doesn´t have any resemblance with the original, I think that he looks even infantile in my drawing, any trace of his hard facial features, but....

I am enjoying stopping to study the facial features. It gives me a lot of information. Undoubtely this man was a veteran sailor, his clear eyes show experience. This man seems to be a whaling captain. It seems that the Royal Navy normally takes this kind of  people for guiding the vessels among the icebergs or ice floes in the northern seas. Whalers have been allways familiarizated with the navigation in arctic seas.

 I haven´t found any additional information to put here. Only that in 1854 John Rae obtained from the Inuit a gold watch engraved with his initials. This probably is the only remain of him that will be recovered ever.

viernes, 3 de agosto de 2012


Sometimes clues and facts have come to the light after years of a dense fog of mistery, not only through books or journals found on lonely skeletons or through lost papers enclosed on metal tins under big cairns placed on desolated shores. Other times they have come from oral testimonies which have lasted hundreds of years.

But sometimes the testimonies come into the light under the form of pictures. This is indeed very rare and even  rarer if you consider that the pictures come from the 19th century and that those were found after being thirty three years in the middle of the arctic.

There are other cameras or photographic records waiting for being found and for revealing two different tragedies, that of George Leigh Mallory who died trying to descend from the Everest and that camera that carried the John Franklin lost and last Expedition. Although in my opinion there isn´t any hope to found none of them.

This post is a tribute to three people who died 115 years ago. Tomorrow is the aniversary of the day when they make a wise decission. On the 4th august of 1897 three tired men, after being for 21 days on the ice pack since their Hydrogen filled Ballon landed after 2 and a half days of a hellish flight trying to reach the North Pole, decided their future over the 81 th parallel  and choose their path to scape from a certain death. It was indeed a wise decission, but not allways the fate is on our hands and this demonstrate that it isn´t enough to make the correct decissions to survive.

Nils Strindberg_from Wikipedia
Salomon August Andree from wiikipedia

Knut Fraenkel
These men had to decide between going to one of the depots left for them in case of emergency. One was located on  the ´Seven Islands´in Svalbard and the other was in Cape Flora in the Franz Josef Land. The distance from they were to the depots aren´t the same, but they were unaware of that point, and, of course they choose wrong, they began to walk to Cape Flora. It was on the 4th of august when they decided to change the course and they began to walk to Seven Islands but they were never going to reach it.

However, this fact perhaps had nothing to do with their deaths, one of the entries of the Salomon journal on the 4th of october said that the morale was good when they left the ice to transfer their winter quarters to the Kvitoya Island also known as the ´Innaccesible Island´ (it seems to me an ugly forecast).

It has no sense saying much more about the expedition in this post, the whole history is perfectly described here.

Besides this information there are several books, the one on which I discovered the story was on the book "Alas sobre el polo" or ´Wings over the pole´ by Umberto Nobile, which I read a lot of years ago.

There are of course more books that are focused only on the Andree Expedition (I´ve not read anyone of them),  though seeing some review I reccomend to make a previous analysis to make the right choice in order to make a good approach to this subject. There is even a good film nominated to the Oscars about this sad story, directed by Jan Troell and starring the very well known actor Max Von Sydow. I think that the movie is well done and well directed, I enjoyed when I saw it, it has even fun scenes.

I´ve choosed this strange title for the post thinking on one hand that these poor men, who came from the sky not following a star but on board of a strange kind of aircraft, were indeed wise, Salomon would be the forever known ´Ingeneer´ and his name as that of the king has been allways synonymus of wisdom, Nils was the photographer expert  and Knut was also an engineer like Salomon, and on the other hand, because they could be considerated wizards, no other thing can be said of the amazing fact that the photographic film survive the whopping amount of thirty three years with a lot of pictures intact inside.

The story has protagonists, a stage and a theme, and these are they:

The protagonists:  S. A. Andrée,   Nils Strindberg  and Knut Frænkel
The stage: Kvitøya
The theme: A tragedy.

This video (by Latlak) is really beautiful, though a little bit long (9 minutes), is a tribute to the men and to the expedition, the images are pretty (almost all of them taken from the film mentioned before) and the final scenes are chilling, the rests of these poor men whose were burned soon after being repatriated.

Likely, we never will known the real cause of their deaths because the rests of their corpses were burned and it will be a matter of conjecture even nowadays. The cause of the ´trichinosis´ was ever considered as the main reason. Now there are more theories, it seems that at least the reason for the death of one them was an alleged attack by a polar bear, for the others are theories which talks of a supposed poisoning after eating the liver of a bear or death by botulism.

The fact was that their corpses were found in an encampment with enough food and the rests of a polar bear nearby, so the starvation should not be considered as a reason to explain this tragedy, only remains illness or violence or perhaps the mixture of both.

To add more mistery the last and apparently meaningless phrases of the Salomon Journal are thrilling, the meaning is confusing, the message seems to be ... desperate.

The photos of the expedition are reproduced here:

And finally there is a museum in Sweden, the web site is this, it is only in Swedish.

If anybody has more recent information which wants to share will be wellcome to comment here.

martes, 31 de julio de 2012


This is a poem (sonnet) of William Shakespeare which is interpretable as almost everything in the world, (I think that the poems are particularly matter of interpretation), in several ways and I have to say that this post is going to be the most strange post that I´ve ever put here by now, likely because my boredom or a kind of pre-holyday syndrome. 

I found the poem by chance looking for more information about the Peglar Papers, specifically  putting this phrase in google:

'Oh death where is thy sting? Oh grave thy victory?'

Which is in the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (15:15) and which appears in the book found in the lonely skeleton found in KWI in 1851, the called Peglar Papers. (By the way, I highly recommended you to read the whole blog Aglooka).

The interpretation made here: http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/sonnet/6  of the 11th phrase of the sonnet has been relationated with the biblical phrase mentioned before and was the light which was turned on on my brain, this is the sonnet:

Then let not winter's ragged hand deface,
In thee thy (you) summer, ere (before) thou (you) be distilled:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty's treasure ere (before)  it be self-killed.
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That's for thy self (yourself) to breed another thee (you),
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
Ten times thy self were happier than thou art (are),
If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:
Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair
 To be death's conquest and make worms thine heir.

I´ve found more than the only coincidence mentioned with that phrase so I thrown myself on this chimera and bizarre labour, and at the end of all this strange work here is my logical interpretation made phrase by phrase:

NOTE1: Please, don´t take it seriously, it is just that I wanted to do force some connection between the poem and the sad history of this man who died alone (or not) on that place.

NOTE2: But...what if Peglar-Armitage-Gibson wrote that thinking on this poem??? Well it could be although I really doubt it.

Here it is my interpretation:

(1) Don´t let the winter harm you: He refers to the ships blocked by the ice floes and the necessity to land and of the beginning of a long and desperate journey.

(2) In the summer you´ll be taken something that becames vital to survive: carrying their own supplies?, hunting? fishing? any other source of food? (thinking on the worse measures).

(3) the vials are of course the famous  tins or cans, and the sweet is the sweet flavour of the lead dissolved on their content.

(4) The same source of life (food) is the same that is going to kill you (poisoned by the welded lead  cans?) (or their conscience killed to appeal to the last resource?)

(5) If we refer to the second explanation of the (4) it is not a forbidden use because your life depends on doing what you have to do in order to survive.

(6) This could make happy to those who were used to let others live. (I doubt it)

(7) Suppossing you would have made the same for others (not counciously of course).

(8) Obvious that more can breed more (chilling thought)

(9) the same than before

(10) You will recover your strength

(11) and what could do the death? this is the connection with the Letter to the Corinthians.

'Oh death where is thy sting? Oh grave thy victory?'

(12) They, the men, the explorers, will continue living in the memoir of those who known the tragedy and of their relatives.

(13) This is hard to ascertain, but it would be something like "don´t be proud for doing what the necessity oblies you to do" (I am afraid that this thing is slightly picked up (or grab?) with tweezers).

(14) And finally and no less important, that the death of these men involved the strongest subsequent attempts to discover the Northwest passage, as worms trying claim the price.

viernes, 27 de julio de 2012


Commander Graham Gore (from the only known photo of him for me) author: me
My drawing hasn´t got a big physical resemblance, or any resemblance at all with the original, I would say, but it is the first aproximation. From the study of his face in the original photo while drawing his face features I became familiar with his gesture, and It is fun to watch his slight smile, nearly ironical. It seems that he is trying to contain his laugh, showing that perhaps he was a man of good humor. He is staring at something or at someone, perhaps to a good friend or a mate who was laughing at the same time when the photo was taken. It is also remarkable the dimple or wound in his cheek.

The original photo is here:

And a very very interesting analysis of the original picture is in the Russell Potter blog which I highly recomend to read and it is here:

The byography of this man is fascinating, he was another artist as could be George Back and Robert Hood, some of his sketches are really impressive, two of them are here:

A complete an really interesting account of his life and of the life of  his ancestors is here in the blog of William Battersby: 

From all this places I´ve learned that he was a talented artist and curious details about his life like he was in the "Beagle" for three years, something about his mood and other curious anecdotes.

Mi dibujo no tiene un gran parecido físico, o ninguno en absoluto con el original, diría yo, pero es la primera aproximación. Del estudio de su cara en la foto original al dibujando sus rasgos faciales me he familiarizado con su gesto, y es divertido observar su ligera sonrisa, casi irónica. Parece que está tratando de contener la risa, mostrando quizás que se trataba de un hombre de buen humor. Está mirando a algo o a alguien, quizás a un buen amigo o compañero quien estaba riendo en ese mismo momento cuando la foto fué tomada. Es de señalar también el hoyuelo o herida que tiene en la mejilla.

La foto original está aqui.

Y un muy muy interesante análisis de su foto está en el blog de Russell Potter, cuya lectura recomiendo encarecidamente y está aqui.

La biografía de este hombre es fascinante, fué otro artista como lo pudo ser George Back y Robert Hood, algunas de sus pinturas son impresionantes, dos de ellas están aqui.

Una descripción completa y realmente interesante de su vida y de la de sus antecesores está aqui en el blog de William Battersby.

De todos estos sitios he aprendido que el fue un talentoso artista y curiosos detalles sobre su vida, como que estuvo embarcado en el Beagle durante tres años, algo sobre su caracter y otras curiosas anécdotas.

lunes, 23 de julio de 2012


Landing of the Erebus crew on KWI Author: me
Perdón por no haber borrado parte del boceto a lápiz ni haber terminado el aparejo, pero es el precio de la precipitación.

Sorry for not erasing part of the pencil draft  nor finishing the rigging, but this is the price of my precipitation.

jueves, 19 de julio de 2012


Now that I am finishing the book "To the Arctict by Canoe" by C.Stuart Houston, I am even more intrigued with the life of Robert Hood. There is something in his history which capture my attention and spellbound me.
Yes, I´ve taken a picture of my book.

The manner in which that young Irish (or english-irish) man of nearly 24 years old write full of irony, wit and sarcasm, his unfinished narration of the journey, the realistic descriptions of the Indians and their behaviour, the landscapes descriptions, his drawings and some situations which are described carry us, while reading his journal, to that places in a different way that the Narrative of Franklin of this same journey. 

And the events which happened close the circle. His love by an Indian woman, his fight to get her love with George Back, his daughter whith the Indian Greenstockings who was registered in the Fort Resolution in 1823,  his attempt to save the life (risking his own throwing himself to the wild river) of the steerman who unfortunately died drowned in the river and which he didn´t reflect on his journal, and finally his cruel assessination. Even the death of his brother George in africa, soon after his own, increase the tragedy and the "halo" of mistery and misery.
The spirit of Robert Hood was full of energy and talent, if he hadn´t died there, probably he would be nowadays between the most famous explorers linked to the northwest passage expeditions as happened with George Back.

Through his brief byography we can see that he was assigned to serve off the iberian peninsula soon after the Trafalgar Battle, (is something that I will try to analyse closer). He joined the Navy with only 12 years, and his career, though brief, was intense, he was in cape hope, in the attack of ALgier, etc. ON the journal i ´ve found a mention in which he compares one of the Canadian rivers with the Ganges, but there is no mention to any stay of him in the India. He also compares the mosquitoes with the african ones.

I supposse that I would be able to obtain more information on this article, but I can´t get it through Internet (I will continue looking for it and more information).
Article titled 'Lieutenant Robert Hood, R.N. 1797-1821' by A.G.E Jones. 

Why is not his byography in wikipedia? I tried to write it several years ago and I even write some lines but I renounce at last to complete it, in the end I am not more than an amateur...

Ahora que estoy termiando del libro "To the Arctict by Canoe" de C.Stuart Houston, estoy incluso aún mas intrigado sobre la vida de RObert Hood. Hay algo en su historia que ha capturado mi atención y me ha hechizado.

El modo en el que este joven hombre Irlandés (o Inglés Irlandés) de casi 24 años escribe, lleno de ironía, ingenio y sarcasmo, su relato inconcluso del viaje, las realísticas descripciones del comportamiento de los indios, las descripciones de los paisajes, sus dibujos y algunas situaciones que se describen nos transportan, mientras leemos su diario, a aquellos lugares de un modo diferente a como lo hace Franklin en su narración del mismo viaje.

Y los acontecimientos que cerraron el círculo. Su amor por aquella mujer India, su lucha por su amor con George Back, su hija con Greenstockings, quien fué registrada en Fort Resolution en 1823, su intento de salvar la vida del timonel que desafortunadamente murió ahogado, arriesgando la suya propia lanzándose al salvaje rio,acción que RObert Hood no reflejó en su propio diario, y finalmente su cruel asesinato. Incluso la muerte de su hermano en Africa, poco después de su propia muerte, añade un "halo" adicional de tragedia a esta historia de misterio y miseria.

El espíritu de Robert Hood estaba lleno de energía y talento, si no hubiera muerto allí, probablemente se encontraría ahora entre los mas famosos exploradores vinculados a las expediciones en búsqueda del paso del noroeste como ocurrió con George Back.
 A través de su breve biografía, podemos ver que fue asignado a servir frente a la península ibérica poco después de la batalla de Trafalgar, (es algo que intentaré analizar de cerca).. Se incorporó a la marina con solo 12 años, y su carrera, aunque breve fue muy intensa, estuvo en el cabo de buena esperanza, en el ataque de Algiers, etc. En el diario he encontrado una comentario en el cual compara un rio Canadiense con el Ganges, pero no hay menciones en su biografía a que estuviese destinado en la India anteriormente. También establece comparaciones entre los mosquitos Canadienses y los Africanos.

Supongo que sería capaz de obtener mas información de este artículo, pero no he podido encontrarlo disponible en Internet, intentaré encontrar mas información.

Article titled 'Lieutenant Robert Hood, R.N. 1797-1821' by A.G.E Jones.

miércoles, 18 de julio de 2012


Algo hay en lo inhóspito del ártico Canadiense que atrae, seduce y captura a  artistas de todos los lugares. Es algo que hace poco he oido nombrar la "llamada del Norte".
Maurice Hall Haycock, fue cautivado y hechizado por el ártico Canadiense en el año 1926-27 después de pasar un año, por motivos de trabajo, conviviendo con los Inuit en la isla de Baffin. Después, de regreso a casa contactó con Alexander Young Jackson (miembro fundador del grupo de los siete) y fué a raiz de este contacto cuando comenzó su verdadera carrera como pintor allá por el año 1930.

Maurice volvió al ártico en 1949 con Jackson al lago del Gran oso y ya después de aquel viaje continuó yendo al ártico cada año durante los siguientes 40 años.  

El grupo de los siete fué un grupo de siete artistas que focalizaron su trabajo en pintar paisajes del ártico Canadiense, a estos siete hombres se les asocian otros dos hombres aunque no fueron oficialmente admitidos como parte del llamado "Grupo de los siete".
Fué en 1930, cuando al morir uno de sus socios fundadores, sucedió a este peculiar grupo otro llamado "Canadian Group of painters" más amplio y que además afortunadamente permitía el acceso a mujeres.

Maurice, tratando de pintar la "historia del norte", los primeros asentamientos, la historia de la búsqueda del paso del noroeste, etc. en algún momento fué cautivado por el hechizo de la Expedición perdida de Franklin y parte de su obra está centrada en este asunto. Maurice contribuyó con su gran archivo documental y fotográfico en las investigaciones, incluyendo su participación en el descubrimiento del HMS Breadalbane en 1980.

Illustrated London News republished at Rhode Island College's overview entitled Franklin in the Public Eye: 1818-1859
Entre sus obras están las tumbas de la expedición de Franklin en la isla de Beechey, una vista poco frecuente de la isla de Beechey desde el Cabo Spencer, los restos de Northumberland House, etc.

Aquí está su trabajo recogido en tres galerías: http://mhaycock.com/gallery1.html

Sus hijas han recogido el legado, e igualmente han sido hechizadas por la "llamada del Norte".

There is something into the inhospitable arctic that attracts, seduce and capture at artists of every where. It is something that recently I´ve heard and it is called "The Call of the North".

Maurice Hall Haycock, was captivated and haunted by the Canadian Arctic in the year 1926-27 after spending a year, working there, living with the Inuit in the Baffin Island. After, when he came back home he conctacted with Alexander Young Jackson (founder of the "Group of Seven") and it was because this conctact when he began his artist career in the year 1930.

Maurice came back to the arctic with Jackson to the Great Bear Lake and after this trip he return every year to the arctict the next 40 years.

The Group of Seven was a group of seven artist who focused their work on painting Canadian arctic landscapes, to this seven men are relationated other two although they didn´t be admited as part of the Group.

It was in 1930, when one of the founders died when the peculiar Group of seven was succeded by other group called the "Canadian Group of painters" bigger then the former and which fortunately admited women.

Maurice tried to paint "The history of the North", the first settlement, the history of the searching of the Nothwest passage, etc. In one particular moment, he was captured and spellbounded by the spell of the lost Franklin expedition and part of his art work is focused in this aspect. Maurice contributed with his big archive of documents and photographs in the investigations, including his participation in the discovery of the HMS Breadalbane in 1980.

Between his work are the graves of the men of the Beechey Island, a non common view of the Beechey island from cape Spencer, the rests of the Northumberland House, etc.

His art work is collected in three Galleries on his own web page here: http://mhaycock.com/gallery1.html

And his daugthers (Kathy and Carole) have taken his legacy and equally have been captured by the Call of North.