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: