Notes On Franklin Relics

L.A. Learmonth


Mr. L. A. Learmonth, formerly of the Fur Trade Department, Hudson's Bay Company and a Fellow of the Arctic Institute has provided Arctic with notes and sketch maps concerning traces of the Franklin Expedition found in the King William Island region of northern Canada. The map published here is based on the Canadian National Topographic Series map on a scale of 8 miles to the inch, with amendments by Mr. Learmonth. The following items refer to the large map. Mr. Learmonth and Mr. D. G. Sturrock discovered the remains of three men at Tikeraniyou (1) together with a George IV Half Crown and a large ivory sailor's button (Pootogo). The remains were taken to Gjoa Haven and the relics forwarded to Hudson's Bay House, Winnipeg. The place is a point of land shaped like a crooked finger, and is where the land bends round to the southwest, between 12 and 15 miles west of Starvation Cove. A skull and some bones were found at (2) near Washington Bay late in June 1942 and were taken to Gjoa Haven. Two skulls were discovered on the beach at (3) near Tulloch Point in June 1942 and forwarded to the R.C.M.P. at Cambridge Bay, where they were buried near the grave of Patsy Klengenberg. Remains of seven of Franklin's men were found at (4), Douglas Bay, by Paddy Gibson. Bones of four of Franklin's men were moved from islands at (5) and along with three others from Tikeraniyou were buried under the beacon at Gjoa Haven. The following items refer to the small inset map of the Richardson Point area. Jaw bones of three white men discovered at (1) in June 1942. Most of the teeth were in place, in good condition, and not ground down as would have been the case with adult Eskimos. Mr. Learmonth also found one whole skull and many large bones scattered on the surface close to an old Eskimo seal cache. Moss had grown over many of the bones. He erected a small cairn where the bones were discovered, and a larger one at the sky line on the ridge above, and which can readily be seen from the sea.He took all the bones to Gjoa Haven. Neniook, Eyaritituk's mother, about seventy years old, reported having come across the skeletons of seven white men still partly clothed in blue serge, and partly buried in the sand and seaweed on a small island in the vicinity of (2). Hard boots with nails in the soles were also noted by Neniook who was a small child at the time. She was not available at the time Mr. Learmonth searched several small islands in the vicinity very carefully, but he failed to discover any evidence. In a letter accompanying the above notes Mr. Learmonth suggests that it might be appropriate for a cairn or other memorial to be erected at Victory Point, King William Island "commemorating the landing of 105 men under Crozier from the abandoned Erebus and Terror". It was there, he points out, that the only written record ever recovered from the expedition was found. He also suggests a cairn and a memorial plaque for the grave of the seven men buried near the Hudson's Bay Company post at Gjoa Haven. "Their names of course are unknown, but did they not die in a great cause? Whoever they may be, did they not fight as tough a battle as any unknown soldier?" In August 1948, Mr. Learmonth flew north from Winnipeg on the H.B.C. Canso with Mr. R. H. Chesshire, Manager of the Fur Trade Department. He plans to remain in the area of Fort Ross throughout the winter, in order to carry out archaeological, geographical and other studies.


Airplanes; Arctic Institute of North America. Project Snow Cornice; Biology; Geology; Glaciology; Mapping; Meteorology; Research; Research stations; Snow; Seward Glacier, Yukon/Alaska; Malaspina Glacier, Alaska; Vancouver, Mount, Alaska/Yukon; Yakutat, Alaska

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