John Rae (1851 & 1854)

The search for Franklin began in 1847, when Captain William Penny, a whaling mariner, tried to enter Lancaster Sound in search of cairns or other evidence of the missing expedition. Subsequent search efforts were spurred by financial inducements, including a reward by the Admiralty that was eventually increased to £20,000. The first search parties had no clear idea of where to find Franklin; his sailing orders directed him to sail to the south and west of the Boothia Peninsula en route to the Bering Sea, but that covered a very wide swath of the ocean channels of the Arctic archipelago. The search eventually included expeditions staged from the eastern end of Lancaster Sound between Devon Island and northern Baffin Island; the western end between Melville and Banks Island; and several overland expeditions approaching the Central Arctic from the area of Great Bear Lake on the west and Hudson Bay from the southeast. The searchers made extensive use of man-hauled sledging, and dog sledging. They also applied new technologies such as balloons and ice blasting methods.

Evidence of Franklin's missing ships first appeared in 1851 when Dr. John Rae discovered wooden remnants of the hull of the Terror that had washed up on the south-eastern shores of Victoria Island. As driftwood these pieces could have been carried by currents and waves to that location from far away. But where exactly did they float from? Rae’s next expedition, in 1854, was the first to return to Britain with substantial evidence of the fate of Franklin's party. Rae encountered several members of the Netsilingmiut, the Inuit people who live in the area between northeastern Hudson Bay on the east and the vicinity of King William Island on the west. These individuals included Innookpoozhejook, who told Rae of having found on King William Island items of material possessions and human remains probably belonging to members of the Franklin Expedition. What did Rae learn from his explorations and interactions with the Netsilingmiut?

Sunken ship