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.

5 comentarios:

  1. Great post and a very thought provoking topic.
    Franklin's men may have preferred to visit the contemporary location of the magnetic pole on KWI in preference to the 1831 location on Boothia. The position of the pole usually oscillates in an ellipse around 50km long throughout the day so there is no single point to look for a camp or cairn. The Inuk See-pung-er reported a tall cairn "at another point somewhere between Port Parry and Cape Sabine" (on the East coast of KWI) containing a "small tin-cup...full of just such looking stuff as the paper on which Hall had been writing". This is usually thought to be a mistaken location for the Victory Point cairn but could have been left by a sledge party attempting to visit the magnetic pole. Possibly the "tin-cup" mentioned is the matchbox http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/2234.html It doesn't seem possible to date this box close enough to say if it was left by Franklin's men or by McClintock.

  2. Thank you very much Peter and thank you for this extra information!. That´s what I was thinking, that they were trying to reach their contemporary or 1845 magnetic Pole which I had suppossed it should have been X miles northwards from the 1831 position. But what I didn´t know is that the magnetic pole had a daily oscilation, which I´ve read it can reach not only 50 km as you mentioned but even 80 km depending on the day.

    Daily Movement of the North Magnetic Pole:


    Then it could have even been upon the same KWI or even upon the ships themselves.

    What I wonder now is: What point reached J.C.Ross in 1831 then? How could he determine a single position? He had to spent the whole day chasing this elusive point as if he were chasing a squirrel before he decided to put an end to his persecution unless tan the day he reached it the North magnetic Pole were particularly quiet.

  3. I mean "their contemporary 1847 magnetic north pole. Sorry.

  4. Good points! The visuals are an excellent addition to your post. I'd imagine that, as long as things were going tolerably well, the Expedition would have endeavored to locate the NMP. Looks like a better search of that area is in order!

  5. Thank you Jaeschylus, I think the same. My next step will be analise who was after 1847 in the J.C.Ross Cairn in the cape Adelaide and checking if someone found some kind of clue or relic there or near there.