North

Franklin legacy a mixed one in Deline, N.W.T.

The discovery of a long-lost shipwreck in the central Arctic has been a historic moment for many Canadians. In the Northwest Territories, Franklin’s legacy is distinctly mixed.

Who's Franklin? ask students at Yellowknife's Sir John Franklin High School

Some students at Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife are interested in the explorer's history. Others have never heard of him. Either way, the doomed adventurer's legacy is a distinctly mixed one in the N.W.T. (CBC)

The discovery of a long-lost shipwreck in the central Arctic has been a historic moment for many Canadians. In the North, Sir John Franklin’s legacy is distinctly mixed.

Gabe Klengenberg, a student at Yellowknife’s Sir John Franklin High, says he got hooked by the mystery in social studies.

"I want to know the founder of my school,” he says. “I really haven't found out much about it. I'd like to know more.”

But for some teenagers, an explorer's lost ship is still ancient history.

"I didn't even know about it till now actually,” one said.

Sir John alumni Lesley Creed speaks for many northerners.

"I definitely think the money could have gone somewhere else obviously there's a lot more social issue problems that need to be dealt with beyond finding an old ship,” Creed says. “But I mean it is really exciting, I love history, I love reading about all that stuff.”

Fort Franklin to Deline

Morris Neyelle of Deline, N.W.T., says the Franklin expedition should not be glorified. He’d like to see more attention paid to Franklin's time living in the north.

Originally a gathering place for Dene on the western shore of Great Bear Lake, Franklin used the Hudson Bay trading post at Deline as a staging area for his second Arctic expedition in 1825.

Neyelle says the time Sir John Franklin and his men spent in the community was a dark period of its history. He says he heard from an elder that Franklin's men abducted women and people feared for their lives.

"People need to know the actual story, what really did happen,” he says. “Not just exploring, but the killings that happened when he was here.”

For a long time, the community was known as Fort Franklin.

Neyelle says the stories he heard prompted him to lobby to change the name of his community back to Deline, a change that officially occurred in 1993.

Birthplace of hockey

Neyelle says the community has benefitted in one way from Franklin's expedition.

Franklin wrote in his diary about people playing a game with sticks on Great Bear Lake.

That gave Deline a claim to being the birthplace of hockey.

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