The Franklin Conspiracy: Cover-up, Betrayal, and the Astonishing Secret Behind the Lost Arctic Exhibition


320 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88882-234-0
DDC 917.19'5041'092





Reviewed by William A. Waiser

William A. Waiser is a professor of history at the University of
Saskatchewan. He is the author of Saskatchewan’s Playground: A History
of Prince Albert National Park and Park Prisoners: The Untold Story of
Western Canada’s National Parks, 1915–1946


One of the greatest mysteries in Canadian Arctic exploration history was
the disappearance of the Franklin expedition. Last sighted by whalers
near Greenland in 1845, the expedition sailed west into Davis Strait in
a determined effort to finally locate the Northwest Passage—only to
disappear. The remains of the expedition—but not the two ships—were
eventually found on King William Island in the middle of the Arctic
archipelago. There has been no shortage of explanations about the fate
of the expedition. But in the last generation, it has been generally
accepted that the stranded expedition suffered from severe lead
poisoning and ultimately resorted to cannibalism.

Blair Latta has now turned the Franklin scholarship on its head by
offering a completely different—some might argue, bizarre—account of
the expedition and its fate. Through his rereading of the surviving
documentary evidence, he suggests that Franklin was not really sent to
find the Northwest Passage, that the expedition deliberately headed to
King William Island area, and that there was something there. In fact,
Latta believes that the Franklin mystery is Canada’s equivalent to the
Roswell, New Mexico, incident a century later.

The Franklin Conspiracy is a brash, if not farfetched, story that tries
to advance a theory by sowing doubt about how the historical record has
been traditionally interpreted. Readers with an open mind and a good
imagination should find the book entertaining if only because it raises
some interesting questions about an expedition that was not supposed to


Latta, Jeffrey Blair., “The Franklin Conspiracy: Cover-up, Betrayal, and the Astonishing Secret Behind the Lost Arctic Exhibition,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,