Would you believe another discovery of Franklin relics?

At first I was sceptical. But the more I looked at it, the more interested I became. A British adventurer, a TV-show-host named Bear Grylls, reports happening upon a possible Franklin site, complete with graves, on a tiny island in Wellington Strait, northeast of King William Island. That story turned up in the U.K. in The Independent, and was picked up in Canada in The Gazette. What Grylls did not know was that in May 1859, while searching in this vicinity on behalf of Lady Franklin, explorer Leopold McClintock passed through this strait, which is not to be confused with Wellington Channel. He sledged south along the icy shoreline of King William Island, then crossed the southern part of the strait to the southwest tip of Matty Island. There he found a deserted Inuit village of nearly twenty snowhuts. Also, he discovered “shavings or chips of different kinds of wood from the lost expedition.” McClintock tried and failed to find the Inuit who had lived there, and he resumed his southward march. He did not visit the precise area Grylls describes — though that tiny island would appear to be just a few miles north of the tip of Matty Island. This is intriguing, and worthy of further research.


  1. shelley on February 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Hi Ken, I am following your discussion with Denis with great interest. Would this discovery (if confirmed) suggest that at least some of the survivors were trying to get to the cache left by John Ross (I think it was him) further north? I'm still thinking this will turn out to be Inuit or whalers, but we'll see.

  2. Ken McGoogan on February 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Shelley, yes, that is one possibility. Searchers have long wondered why the men did not make for that John Ross cache at Fury Beach. If you check the map, you can see that if some of them were heading that way, they might have stopped here. Or some might have stopped and others gone on. Lots of possible scenarios, all of which would complicate the picture nicely.

  3. Russell Potter on February 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Hi Ken,

    Glad to see you've picked up this story. Even more specifically than McClintock's drive-through, the Inuk known as See-pung-er told CF Hall that he found clothing, the skeleton of a "ka-bloo-na", and a cairn with a tin canister inside somewhere in this same area. See-pun-ger gave the papers he found in the canister to the children or threw them away, as such stuff was "good for nothing" as far as he knew. Details on my blog, and in Woodman's book …

  4. Ken McGoogan on February 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Yes, I've read that. I think this site should be investigated.

Leave a Comment