Building The Igluryuaq Computer Model

Franklin Reconstruction

The images above are of an Inuvialuit sod house drawn by Lieutenant George Back. Back was a British Royal Navy officer who served on an expedition to the western Canadian Arctic in 1825-27 under the command of Captain John Franklin.

Using Historic Accounts Of Inuvialuit Architecture


Images of the landscape and climate of the Arctic have long fascinated Europeans. In the years following 1818 as the British Admiralty searched for the Northwest Passage, visions of the Arctic world emerged in paintings and literature. It is perhaps not coincidental that Mary Shelley published her novel Frankenstein that very same year. In the story, a young ambitious explorer encounters Victor Frankenstein as he chases his monster across the sea ice north of a place called Archangel. Such an encounter must have been inspired by Shelley’s reading of arctic journals and the drawings they contained. In a world before aerial photography, satellite imagery, and hand held cameras, sketches and paintings provided the only images of the Arctic to Europeans such as Mary Shelley.

The Royal Society encouraged painting and drawing by British Naval officers for the purposes of map-making and documenting important discoveries. While the need for accuracy was always stressed, artistic license was a common problem. European and American explorers, through their religious beliefs and nostalgia for home, frequently transformed the arctic through their sketches and paintings. Icebergs were portrayed as gothic cathedrals with spires reaching skyward,. Tents, flags, and ships sails were drawn bulging and deformed by high winds. Exaggerating the scale of landscape features relative to ships, sledges, and shelters was also used to create a sense of the human endeavor being dwarfed by nature. Click on the images to the right to enter a Virtual World where you can further explore how Europeans transformed the arctic through illustrations.

Arctic archaeologists often use the illustrations and descriptions found in explorer’s journals to help construct an understanding of Inuvialuit culture in the Western Arctic. For example, we used 19th century drawings of Inuvialuit sod houses to help us understand how they were built, as well as what they might have looked like inside and out. However, these illustrations show how Igluryuaq appeared to 19th century Europeans. For these reasons, archaeologists cannot treat them as truly accurate depiction of Igluryuaq. Nevertheless, they do provide useful clues when combined with archaeological data that help us in build our computer reconstruction.

Virtual Tour of an Igluryuaq

Click on each image below to enter a Virtual World based on illustrations from a book Bon the Expedition published in 1828.

Virtual Tour - Exterior
Franklin Reconstruction - Exterior

QTVR - Click here to view
Virtual World - Click here to view

Virtual Tour - Interior
Franklin Reconstruction - Interior

QTVR - Click here to view
Virtual World - Click here to view