The missing peace in the NWP puzzel

Having made the passage from Taloyoak to Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Havn) We have passed trough Rae strait. The strait is named after its discoverer Dr John Rae. Born to an Orcadian estate keeper, Rae found his way in to the service of the Hudson Bay Company at an early age. Many of his fellow Island men worked for the company and where held in high regard. Often the last port of call for the ships en route to the Hudson Bay, Canada, was Stromness, Orkney. After taking in supplies word was brought out that young able men could find fame and fortune in the companies service. They where mostly employed as boat men running goods between the different Forts scattered over Canada.

Rae joined as a doctor, but soon made name as an out standing athlete when making cross country passages. His skills in small boat handling also did not go unnoticed. He was sent out on numerous expeditions to chart the northern lands. Highly respected by the local Inuit who’s survival skills Rae was quick to adapt. Trekking overland in 1854, Rae followed the land east of the Copper Mine River and was the first to discover that in fact King William land, was King William Island! He did not know at the time the two ships of the Franklin expedition, Erebus and Terror, had been beset in the ice just north of King William Island. However he came across an Inuit family carrying several “whitemens” items. He was told that not long ago a large group of white men had been dragging a boat along the South coast of King William Island and where traveling south in search of food. The Inuit explained that later that year corpses where found who had succumbed to the cold and starvation and that the corpses had signs of cannibalism!

Rae brought back this news and the items to the Admiralty in England. Lady Franklin was not impressed by this news. She could not belief that men of this status could resort to the last means in live. She armed herself with the help of Charles Dickens and began a campaign to clear her husbands name. It was not until 1997 that research revealed knife marks on some of the bones of these men. Too late for Rae! It took until 1859 to find the first written message, stating the crews faith. Francis McClintock took on a private expedition in the steam yacht Fox and found derelicts and more important two cairns on the North shore of King William Island. One of the cairns contained a letter stating that Capt Franklin had died of unspecified cause on June the 11th 1847. What truly caused the men to perish is still not sure. Lead poisoning, tuberculoses, and of course starvation are all named. But why did the men not ask for help from their Arctic hosts, the Inuit? We might never know. The story becomes more complete now the two ships have been located. But the mystery will always be there!

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