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, 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