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, 6 de febrero de 2017


There is not too much information about the pets which accompanied the Franklin expedition when they departed towards the north in 1845, we do not know much more than they took a dog called Neptune, a cat of unknown name and a monkey called Jacko. Nobody asked them if they wanted to participate, if someone had asked maybe they would have refused and saved their lives, in case they had actually died in the Arctic. It has never been found bones of a cat, of a dog or of a monkey in King William Island and surroundings, and till now, they have not been found in the Erebus or the Terror neither.
Was any of those animal companions part of the previous expedition of Erebus and Terror comanded by James Ross to the Antarctic in 1839-42? There is no trace of a Monkey in the official account of this voyage though there was indeed a cat. The 21th of february of 1842, the cat of the ship (whose name is unknown) devoured a small fish, which has been accidentaly brought aboard, while it was being sketched by Mr Robertson, the Terror´s surgeon and Naturalist. An awckward and curious scene which surely was the cause of loud laughs .

According with Wikipedia, I could consult better sources I know that..., Monkeys began to take part of the crews of the nineteenth century ships when British ships started to land in Africa´s shores. We are not, of course, speaking of the so called "Powder Monkeys", those poor young boys in charge of supplying of gunpowder the gun crews but of actual monkeys instead.

Senegal Monkey´s were adopted by ship´s cooks. Apparently, monkeys which are nowadays kept in captivity in United Kingdom are descendants from those monkey sailors.

My suggestion is not that poor Jacko could become crazy at some point during the trip and had killed all the Franklin´s men while sleeping, as a sort of a Victorian version of Horror Express or the not very well known story of the British Barque Margaret which was the scenario of a bizarre outbreak of animal fury, but that he could be the host of a mortal disease which in the isolation of the arctic had produced the mithyc and rare high rate of casualties.

But why should a ship, employed in discovering a passage at such high latitudes, carry a monkey which wouldn´t have been likely ever before at temperatures below zero? 

Was Jacko a Senegal Monkey, also called Green Monkeys? I am not sure, but what we know is that Jacko was actually "she" and that she was a gift from Lady Franklin. This is a tantalizing thought, could have been Lady Jane who, for presenting the Monkey could have caused the death of so many on board the ship?

It could sound as an odd thought but the truth is that Green Monkeys are famous for carrying and transmitting a disease which is called "The Green Monkey disease" also called "Mar´burg disease" a fatal illness which can be easily transmitted to humans and which provokes you: fever, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Maybe you would recognise it better if I call it Ebola.

Surely we will never know if poor Jacko had something to do with the tragedy, or if on the contrary he cheered up the survivors in their camps in the island during the long and boing nights of winter, or ,if he ended in the bellies of the hungry men as the main course of a special dinner for Christmas when the things became desperate.

Interestingly there is another Jacko, whose name has absolutely nothing to do with our little pet, but who has called strongly my attention while trying to find some clues about the monkey. This other Jacko, called Jacko Jararuse, is an Inuit  artist author of magnificent craft masterpieces, as it is the carved Whalebone that you can see in this link and other amazing creations like hunters or drumdancers made of jade-like serpentine.

Jacko W.K. Jararuse.
When I stumbled upon this I jumped in my seat. Would this have any connection with our Jacko? Definitely Jacko doesn´t sound as an Inuit name at all, and this man keeps so deeply his traditions that it is strange he hasn´t a name which matchs better his roots. Inuit people, as europeans used to do time ago, give the name of their deceased to the new born to keep their souls somehow alive. The myth behind this is much more complex but that would be the essence. This would mean that Jacko´s name could have been used by his grandfather or even by his great great grandfather, uncles or any other relative. However, there is not apparent and evident connection, what could be? First of all Jacko the artist comes from a little town in the east coast of Labrador called Nain which is very very far from the route followed by Franklin and secondly and more importlay, if for some strange coincidence, Jacko´s ancestors origins were based in the northwest, from the region of King WIlliam Island, why should an Inuit from there bear the name of that pet? There is no doubt that the inuit people would have been very surprised, not to say scare to death when they met Jacko the pet for first time, and we should agree that if those men climbed to the decks of Erebus and Terror they met Jacko for certain. Could have it left such deep print into their minds as to use the Monkey´s name as a name or nickname for one of their children?

My investigation is very limited, but I could at least found that another "Jako Jararuse" was living in Saglek bay, Nain area, in 1945 with an age of 22. Jacko the artist was born in 1963, if they are relatives or not it is a matter on conjecture.

There is another Jacko Jararuse (maybe the same who I mentioned before), the main character of a story of an Inuit (Jacko) who met once a dwarf in a kayak. The story is very short and you can read it here. As this story is part of some other Inuit stories of Labrador which have been found recently and which comes from the first half of the twentieth century, my researching, which tries to attach the two loose ends, could end happily if I investigate a little bit more....but I am afraid that there won´t be any connection after all, or if that exists would be another of those thousands of little misteries which surrounds the Franklin expedition and which never would be solved.

Most likely, and I am sorry if I distracted you in excess with my digressions, is that the name of "Jacko", when used as an Inuit name, is not more than a different spelling of the name "Jacob" which Moravians missionaries surely spreaded profusely in Labrador peninsula .