Monday, September 20, 2010
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.