Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to Visions of the North

There are regions of the earth whose foreboding shores, strewn with the wreckage of those expeditions which have challenged its ice-infested waters, stand as an eternal warning against the timid of heart.  One of these, surely, is the Arctic -- a land which, despite the vicissitudes of global warming, is still capable of freezing the unwary traveller.  The other is the so-called "blogosphere" itself, where even angels, assuming that angels have internet access, might fear to tread, and where the only ethic seems to be that of the lawless frontier.  Having sojourned in the former, I figured I might as well risk establishing an outpost in the latter.

This blog will be the site for occasional thoughts on a variety of Polar issues, current and historical.  In particular, news and notes about the ongoing mystery of the lost Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin, will be posted here for all interested parties.  My earlier sites, such as my web pages on Franklin, and my knol on Arctic Exploration, will remain active, but new, and newsier items will be posted here.  The Canadian Government's current search, under the direction of Parks Canada archaeologist Bob Grenier, will of course be of special interest, as will links to current news and reviews of books, articles, and documentaries related to Franklin, and 19th-century Arctic exploration in general.  I hope it will come to be a site with many visitors and readers.

Russell Potter


  1. This is great, thank you much!

  2. Thank you, Dr. Potter, for keeping "the fate of Franklin" alive.

    I saw on a Banbridge website that you attended the memorial service attended by Crozier family members.

    I keep hoping something of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror will be found some day.

    Thank you agsin, for all you have done and continue to do to remind us all of such brave men.

  3. Russell,

    Thank you for setting this up. I'll follow and try to be a constructive member. I am a victim of the credit crunch right now, so I have to spend SOME at least of my time looking for a job. But in my spare time I am writing and will keep you all posted. If everyone does this could be a useful site.

    Good luck!

  4. Nice to see this blog appear! I look forward to whatever news and other items you present here, as I missed reading the "Franklin mailing list".

    I have subscribed via RSS rather than by clicking on Followers. What is the difference, anyway?

  5. Thank you Russell for this blog. I hope to contribute to it and hopefully learn about this most fascinating subject.

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  7. Russell, do you believe Franklin was buried onshore?

    If the ocean was frozen solid at the time of his death, how could he be buried at sea?

    Did his men, at Crozier's order, trek the 25 miles to land to give him a dignified Christian burial?

    What are your thoughts on this? Gina

  8. There's been a lot of speculation about Franklin's burial site. It would not have been impossible to bury him near the ships, but it would have required blasting a hole in the ice with gunpowder, and might well have been thought unwise. There is a body of Inuit evidence, particularly an account given to Hall by one "See-pun-ger" that there had been a significant burial on land, marked by a large pole (a mast?) which had been chewed off by polar bears. Seepunger and his son dug into the ground near this pole and found a partly flooded vault, with parts of a human body inside, along with a folding knife. Other bones were scattered at some distance from this tomb; it seemed likely to them that bears had managed to claw their way in and had dragged part of the body out. If indeed this was Franklin's tomb, it did not remain sacrosanct for long, and his fate uncannily resembled that of the explorer who ribcage was chomped by polar bears in Sir Edwin Landseer's famous painting, "Man Proposes, God Disposes."

    There have been attempts to find the site identified by Seepunger, who also claimed that some papers in metal cases had been buried in a vault nearby, but without success. Given the rocky scree of King William Island, though, searching for such a site today, when he vault has probably collapsed and become obscured by erosion, frost, and lemming-holes, would indeed be searching for a needle in an Arctic haysytack!

  9. Dr John Rae is an ancestor of my sister in law who lives on Orkney not far from Clostrain Hall.