“Beyond the end of steel”: Recasting the Franklin Motor Expedition to Canada

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During the summer of 1929 three men drove across the Canadian prairies in a luxury Franklin air-cooled automobile collecting ethnological specimens for the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Steeped within the traditions of ethnographic salvage, the expedition team sought to gather artefacts, which they viewed as representative of ‘traditional’ aboriginal cultures. From its very beginnings the expedition was framed by the language of adventure, uncertainty and encounters with ‘otherness’, and these themes percolated into much of the imagery that has survived. Though the artefacts were deposited in the museum, the associated documentation, photographs and film remained with the team members’ families and have recently been used to reconstruct the expedition’s history from a number of perspectives. This chapter will address how the expedition team engaged with these materials in their retelling of the Franklin Motor Expedition and selectively used them to reinforce popular stereotypes of First Nations people but also of the role of ‘the scientist’ as a legitimate adventurer.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecreating First Contact
Subtitle of host publicationExpeditions, Anthropology and Popular Culture
EditorsJoshua A. Bell, Alison K. Brown, Robert J. Gordon
Place of PublicationWashington DC
PublisherSmithsonian Institution Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-1-935623-14-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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