Interpretations of the Franklin mystery

This part of the web site will introduce you to notable experts on the history of the Franklin Expedition and their different interpretations on what happened to the men and ships of Franklin's party.

The audiotaped interviews with specialists, carried out between September 2013 and January 2014, offer an array of perspectives and interpretations by very knowledgeable people about various aspects of the Franklin Expedition, what it was trying to accomplish, what happened to the expedition, and why. To facilitate comparisons and contrasts between the different interpretations, each of the specialists was asked the same questions. Not surprisingly, the specialists do not always agree on all details although there is extensive agreement on a number of points.

The expert interpretations include:

Dorothy Eber, a journalist and author of a series of books based on Inuit oral history, including Encounters on the Passage: Inuit Meet the Explorers, published in 2008.

Ryan Harris and Jonathan Moore, underwater archaeologists with Parks Canada who have led series of notable interdisciplinary expeditions in search of the ships Erebus and Terror since 2008.

Louie Kamookak, a senior hunter of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, participated in a series of expeditions in search of evidence of Franklin in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and is considered to have been more involved in the search than any other individual.

Professor Andrew Lambert of King's College London, a British naval historian and commentator for various British historical documentaries, whose book Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation was published in 2009.

David Woodman, led a series of Arctic expeditions in search of evidence on Franklin's missing ships and men and authored Unravelling the Franklin Expedition, based on nineteenth century Inuit testimony.

Tom Zagon, an Environment Canada scientist who prepared a detailed study on the ice and climatological factors bearing upon the search for Franklin.

Questions

Each of these experts was asked the same seven questions:

  1. When and how did you first hear of the missing expedition of Sir John Franklin?
  2. What happened to Franklin's party?
  3. Why did they fail?
  4. Where are the ships?
  5. How do you know?
  6. Why do you care?
  7. What is the significance of Franklin's last expedition?
Sunken ship