Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Summer of Franklin?

Not quite - still no Erebus, still no Terror and still no new documents - but what a summer it was for Franklin-ophiles.

  • The discovery of HMS Investigator, as well documented by Professor Potter.

  • The publication of the first biography of James Fitzjames by William Battersby, which often reads like a great detective novel it has so many revelations about the man and his history. It is available here in Canada - go buy and enjoy it - and we will have the pleasure and the privilege of a visit by William next week for the official Canadian launch.

  • Though ultimately unsuccessful, Parks Canada did follow through with a search for the two ships.

  • The opening of a cairn alleged to hold Franklin documents, but didn't, and was supposed to have held Amundson documents, but didn't. Ken McGoogan's detective work solved the puzzle for us.

  • Then there was the very interesting and curious northwest passage of Bear Grylls and the discovery of a possible last resting place of a number of survivors (see photos below).

  • I'm sure there is more. Please add in the comments.

    What was interesting to observe was the growing interest in, and generally raised level of knowledge of, the Franklin Expedition in Canada as well as England. People without any knowledge of who Captain McClure was or what he was doing up in Mercy Bay were quite rivetted by the find. The archeological finds on land were equally important.

    But the one that has me the most on tenterhooks is the Grylls find. Grylls travelled the northwest passage via Rae Strait on a Shockwave Zodiac Hurricane Mach11 is the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with four outboard motors in 13 days! The entire expedition is described on its own website with amazing photos photos. I knew nothing about this trip until William Battersby blogged about it. Now this week, CNN even had a news broadcast on the expedition.

    Where it gets interesting to followers of Franklin started with a somewhat oblique description of a landing a tiny island

    This photo appears to be from the island they discovered:

    From the CNN clip, this photo appears to also be from the island they discovered:

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    8th Annual Underwater Heritage Program - “Sir John Franklin - Quest for the Northwest Passage”

    I just registered for the 8th Annual Underwater Heritage Program (with the obligatory Facebook Event page) which this year is entitled “Sir John Franklin - Quest for the Northwest Passage” and will feature David Charles Woodman as key note presenter on Saturday, April 10, 2010 in London, Ontario.

    Woodman is the groundbreaking author of Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: Inuit Testimony in 1991 and Strangers Among Us in 1995 in which he revisits the Inuit accounts of the Franklin expedition as recorded in the journals and papers of the Charles Francis Hall and re-examines the Inuit accounts in the light of modern scholarship and re-evaluates the importance of Inuit oral traditions in his search to reconstruct the events surrounding Franklin's expedition.

    Woodman appears to have two separate talks - “Franklin and The Inuit Worldview” and “How To Become An Arctic Explorer by Accident” - before his key note presentation, image show & discussion, “In Search of Terror – Shipwreck Hunting
    In the Arctic” later in the evening which is certain to be the highlight of the day for me.

    With the ProCom search and the Parks Canada search so much in the news this past year, it is quite topical, and sure to be a very fascinating day.

    As the event hosted by the Underwater Heritage Program, much of the day will cover underwater archeology more broadly, but in addition to Woodman's, there are are several other presentations/talks concerning the Franklin expedition: Miggs Morris, Author & Former Arctic Resident will speak on “Arctic Challenges Franklin Faced”;
    Commander John Creber (Retired) Canadian Forces Navy on “Royal Navy During The Franklin Era”; and archaeologist John MacDonald will tell us “Why Franklin Failed”!

    I'll be sure to take notes and provide a summary here upon my return.

    Thanks to Russell for alerting me to the event, which he suggests will be certainly "be the Franklin event of the year". And almost right in my own backyard.