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The Franklin-search tempest: adding pieces to the jigsaw

A few social media threads are following the Franklin-search tempest whirling around Paul Watson, Jim Balsillie, John Geiger, and The Lost Franklin Ships. This documentary, full disclosure, includes riveting footage of yours truly talking history (see left). Since the story broke, one researcher (Wolfgang Opel) turned up the Jim Balsillie letter that Watson quoted to Canadaland. Here's a link:

John Geiger, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (F.D.: yes, I am a Fellow), has stated that the RCGS had no editorial control over the documentary.
"We saw it for the first time when it aired on CBC," Geiger told the Canadian Press, "just like the rest of the viewing public."I believe any concerns or comments are best directed to the filmmakers." 

Those film-makers, Andrew E.M. Gregg and Gordon Henderson, stand behind their documentary. In a Facebook post, catching up, Gregg wrote that he knew some some partners in the Erebus search were upset because "they didn't get as much attention as some others did. We've already addressed the stuff Watson trudges up in the Canadaland interview and much of it is not accurate. If you think back to our film our main characters were the two principal underwater archaeologists from Parks Canada. No one else. To claim otherwise is nonsense. . . . To be honest I'm not exactly sure what the story is here -- the PMO reportedly tried to meddle in how the Erebus discovery was rolled out to the press? Should that shock anybody? I'll be interested to find out more over the next few days but we stand by our doc and challenge anybody to poke holes in how we told the story."

And in that same thread, Gordon Henderson wrote: "Our film focused on Marc Andre Bernier and Ryan Harris from Parks Canada. They were the stars. They drove the narrative. Not John Geiger. Not anyone else. The film was about the search and the story. What happened to Franklin and his men. The accuracy of the Inuit testimony. Watch the film -- it's on The Nature of Things website -- and judge for yourself."

In a parallel universe, exploration expert Randall Osczevski noted that Balsillie's letter "refers to studies of ice flow as key information. This was not mentioned in the video, or since." He recalled posting a link and noted:  "At the time, my response and that of others was that we had never heard of this man . . . or his contribution." He and all the rest of us went about our business. But now he wonders.

So, here is the article, which tells us that Tom Zagon, an ice climatologist with expertise in remote sensing, made an important contribution to locating the Erebus by analyzing satellite images. Zagon works for Environment Canada, and as we all know (Old News alert), the Harper regime has muzzled government scientists. To me, it looks like Zagon deserves more kudos than he has received. So that would be one puzzle piece. But is that all there is?

Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.