Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Canadian Geographic celebrates the discovery of Franklin's Erebus





The December issue of Canadian Geographic is billed as a "special collector's edition," and rightly so. It is built around the recent discovery of Erebus, the long-lost ship of Sir John Franklin, pictured above on the right. Contributors include John Geiger, Wade Davis, Leona Aglukkaq, Fergus Fleming, Noah Richler, Russell Potter and yours truly. Put it this way: the magazine contains at least a book's worth of reading. To whet your appetite, here is how my own contribution begins . . . 

By Ken McGoogan
The discovery of one of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships reminds us that Canadian history does not exist in a vacuum. It demonstrates that the demise of the 1845 Franklin expedition was far more complex and protracted than we knew. And it vindicates not just the Inuit but also, and equally, the Arctic explorers who charted our northern archipelago while searching for the Royal Navy ships. For Canadians, most of whom live along the American border, the discovery means we have to rewrite a foundational myth that underscores our national identity as a northern people.
Obviously, the story of Franklin and the search he inspired belongs to British history. But that narrative belongs equally to Canadian history, albeit with a different emphasis, if only because so much of it happened in what would later become Canadian territory. Even those chapters that arose elsewhere, because they affected what occurred here, belong to our history
The discovery of the ship demonstrates that the so-called “standard reconstruction” of what happened to the lost expedition has to be radically rewritten. British historians created the original story around the “Victory Point Record,” the only written document ever recovered from the expedition. . . . .
To read the rest, and much else besides, you will have to dash out and buy a copy.  I do mean dash. These puppies will not last long. 

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