Beechey Island is not a place where humans were ever meant to live. The Inuit and their precursors were able to make a living there after centuries of innovation and adaptation to that specific environment, but Franklin and his men were sorely unprepared when they arrived there in 1845 with the greatest European technology of the time: wool and flannel for clothing, useless boiled lime juice to ward off scurvy, and canned food, devoid of precious vitamin C and riddled with lead, for sustenance.
They spent a cold, dark winter there, and lost three men who should have considered themselves lucky that they did not have to endure what the rest of the doomed expedition did over the following years. Visiting Beechey Island will make anyone shiver, and not just from the cold. The crisp wind over the unwelcoming shards of stone whips into us a reminder that we are not so far removed from Franklin today.
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