The Route of Sir John Franklin's Third Arctic Expedition: An Evaluation and Test of an Alternative Hypothesis

  • Clifford G. Hickey
  • James M. Savelle
  • George B. Hobson
Keywords: Archaeology, Expeditions, Exploration, Explorers, Franklin, Sir John, 1786-1847, History, Search for Franklin, Cairns, Baffin Bay-Davis Strait, Barrow Strait, Nunavut, Kilian Island, M'Clintock Channel, Stefansson Island, Victoria Island, N.W.T./Nunavut, Viscount Melville Sound


An archaeological survey to aid in the determination of the exact route of the last Sir John Franklin expedition following its overwintering at Beechey Island in 1845-46 was conducted in June 1982. The survey was designed to test the hypothesis that the expedition sailed from Beechey Island south to King William Island via McClintock Channel, rather than through Peel Sound and Franklin Strait, as is generally accepted. Surveyed areas included Kilian, Stefansson, and northeast Victoria Islands in northwest McClintock Channel, and Russell and northern Prince of Wales Islands to the northeast of McClintock Channel. Although three cairns associated with Austin's searching expedition of 1850-51 were located, as well as several prehistoric and historic Inuit sites, no structures or materials associated with the Franklin expedition were identified. While inconclusive, the survey essentially completes the examination of coastlines along which the Franklin expedition may have sailed.

Key words: Sir John Franklin, route of third arctic expedition, McClintock Channel