The Real Science Behind
The Odd Shelf
Louie Kamookak, Inuit oral historian who pointed way to Franklin shipwrecks, dies aged 58 and will be honoured in Canada
Growing up in the Canadian Arctic, Louie Kamookak was captivated by tales from Inuit elders of rusted utensils strewn along a remote shore and mysterious white men using ropes to haul a large ship through the ice.
Years later, he realized there was a striking resemblance between the stories of his youth and historical accounts of the ill-fated expedition of Sir John Franklin, whose two ships – and 129 crew members – vanished while searching for the North-West Passage in the 1840s.
Kamookak compared Inuit stories with explorers’ logbooks and journals to develop a working theory of where the ships might be.
He shared these thoughts with Canadian archaeologists, and was eventually vindicated in a spectacular fashion when, using his directions, divers located the HMS Erebus in 2014, and two years later, the Terror.
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Margaret Riley is a wordsmith, slow-kayaker, slow-skiier, photographer of strange realities, and a deep believer in the magic of story time.