Jan 15, 2008 — For centuries, nations sent ships in search of the elusive Northwest Passage, a short-cut to Asia through the ice-laden seas above Canada. Perhaps the most famous attempt was led by Sir John Franklin, an experienced explorer left who England on his third Arctic expedition in 1845. With a crew of 129 volunteers, he set out in two specially-outfitted ships, with enough provisions to last for at least three years. They never returned. Over time, tantalizing clues emerged: a brief message, left in a stone tower, stating Franklin died in 1847. Oral accounts from natives who encountered sick and dying foreigners. The possibility of cannibalism, which shocked Victorian sensibilities. A modern exhumation of three frozen graves suggesting bodies and minds had been affected by lead poisoning from improperly tinned food. The hunt for evidence and answers continues to this day.
Retired geophysicist and Arctic researcher Dr. George Hobson has spent decades studying the Franklin Expedition. These days, he's a popular speaker on tourist expeditions to Beechy Island and other points of Arctic interest. Hobson will give a lecture Wednesday night in Manotick, Ontario. Ottawa correspondent Lucy Martin chatted with him among a local library's collection of books about Franklin and his fate.