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.

lunes, 16 de septiembre de 2013


Reading, as I am doing now, "Weird and Tragic SHores", I am now aware that the first transatlantic cable was laid on the ocean between the British islands and America during the years 1854 and 1858. I´ve always supposed that it was laid soon before the first world war, but it was not. It was much sooner.

Charles Francis Hall was fascinated by this demonstration of science, (almost science fiction) and of modernity, a demonstration which could be compared perhaps on that time to what the human kind would think about the Moon landings years after. I am also fascinated now by this achievement, and oneself cannot, but being amazed about how a steamer and a barge crossed the Atlantic, more than one hundred and sixty years ago, laying the longest cable of the world to be able to communicate with people at thousand of miles of distance. And one also can´t avoid being less than fascinated if thinks that, while this operation was happening, the Henry Grinnell expedition together with the biggest amount of ships had ever been in the Arctic were trying to find Sir John Franklin and his lost expedition.
When Franklin was lost in the Arctic the comunications in the world were based on letters which crossed the earth from one side to the other. The Postal service in Britain in  the nineteenth century was surely the most effective, sure and quick one. Remember that following a postal service line, George Back crossed England from the south to the north during the beginning of the first Franklin Expedition when he lost the ship in the southeast shores of England to end reaching them in the Orkney islands soon after.
 It is true that the Telegraph had been already discovered, but it was still on its beginnings and, of course,  there weren´t telegraph lines in the Arctic and there weren´t neither post offices in the Arctic Archipiélago nor horses to carry rapidly to the civilization their messages with news about their discoveries, with their letters addressed to their families containing their dreams, fears and anxieties and with their SOS messages.
Franklin couldn´t use all those wonders, Franklin couldn´t use the telegraph though it already was a reality on that time. Balloons, bottles, pigeons, cairns and medals tied to arctic foxes were the only means available on that time for the expeditions which were in desolated regions to communicate  with the rest of the world.
In a crazy world which was witnessing an eruption of  discoveries and amazing scientific achievements  which increased and improved the communications in a way never seen before, paradoxically, the last and lost Franklin expedition was without any question alone.

jueves, 12 de septiembre de 2013


Recently William Battersby called strongly my attention  with fascinating news in his blog. Someone is preparing accurate plans to do a perfect replica of the HMS Terror. A replica of the ship made exactly as it was refitted to its last mission of 1845 to cross the Northwest Passage in the arctic, including the reinforcement of the hull, the inclusion of the screw propeller, etc.  It is wonderful to see how the work done by William and Peter Carney in their article is going to  be materialized in a real wooden ship: 

"Equipping HM Ships Erebus and Terror, 1845. International Journal for the History of Engineering & Technology 81(2):192-211."
This mysterious "Someone" is John Smith, a model ship builder, and John Smith is kindly sharing his progress in his wonderful blog. There is no need to say that we will follow closely his steps and that we will wait anxiously to see the results of this scientific and artistic reconstruction project.
Through his blog you can see how he is adapting and remakimg the old plans of the ship and you can check the already available different models of the hull of the ships which nowadays exist in the online pictures which the National Maritime Museum , as for example this one.
I´ve always thought that this world needs a beautiful diorama which was based on this expedition, but as many other lacks (lack of films, more documentaries, etc),  this will be still one of the voids that someday will be filled.
There have been several previous projects of making models and dioramas about the last Franklin expedition. Some of them, designed with scientific purposes, were able even to sail.
This one, in particular, can be seen in the fabulous John Murray´s documentary “Finding Franklin”.. A beautiful model of one of the ships can be seen sailing in a pool into a simulated pack of ice where it is tested its behavior against a frozen sea:
"Finding Franklin" Documentary.
There are other model, to me one of the most impressive at the moment, on which we can see the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror beset into the ice with the upper part of their mast removed and some men in the ice which seem to be preparing themselves for the winter, they are downloading packages, putting the deck cover and doing some other things on the ice.
This is the only picture I´ve been able to find about it. The procedence is the web site belonging to the Rhode Island College on which Russell Potter added the "Report of Field Survey Results" of the Irish-Canadian Franklin Search Expedition in 2004. The model, as the legends says, was exposed at the Princeof Wales Heritage Centre till 2004.
URL of the picture obtained from: http://www.ric.edu/faculty/rpotter/woodman/2004_Field_Report_short.htm
Diorama of HMS Erebus beset, displayed until 2004 at the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre, Yellowknife (Photo: D. Holland, P5090020).
Through the original link of the PWHC we could see in a mínimum size the whole disposition of the diorama with the two ships here: 
Another astonishing model of the Erebus, which some time ago I posted here in my own blog, is a fascinating  icy and tiny model of the Erebus done by Rober A. Wilson.

This model, because its minimum size and its haunting appearance has always captivated me.

Author: Robert A.Wilson

And to finish, one of the most intriguing ones is this other model which appears in the Wikipedia in this link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Model_of_HMS_Erebus.JPG I have no idea where this model is displayed.
Wikipedia: HMS Erebus. Off the north coast of King William Island, Sept 1846. Sir John Franklin captaining
To finish with this issue, as a fanatic of models as I am, I´ve tried, dreamt and fighted against the elements and fought against my own lazyness, to reproduce one of the boats which Aglooka and his men dragged over the ice of Washington bay someday during the spring of 1848.

It is not necessary to mention that the project is still unfinished. I´ve subcontracted the task of painting and mounting the men who should to drag the boat to one of my brothers (which walks the dark path of the modelism as you can see here), and I have still to do the canvas which will cover the boat, the sailing, rigging and  to practice the art of simulating the snow.
Perhaps I will finish it someday, someday...
Boat seen by the Inuit in Washington Bay in 1848. Author: me.