Mission Du Patrimoine Historique

Et Des Sites Archeologiques

Dear Sir, I am a French archaeologist, research fellow at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and in charge of Heritage in the Subantarctic and Antarctic French Territory (TAAF) .

Till recently, France ignored that it had a real heritage in its remote islands (Kerguelen, Crozet, etc.) and in Terre Adélie as well.
Being told by some people working in that area that there were there some old remains of whalers and sealers, I proposed to our Government to be sent there and to make an inventory of the vestiges (1993).

Among those, the ruins of the old Norwegian whaling station of Port Jeanne d’Arc (PJDA) were the most conspicuous. But they were in such a bad state of conservation that it was urgent to act, should we decide to save them. For myself I had already decided to act : that was the beginning of a great challenge.

In 1994 I went back to PJDA and drew the plans of the remaining buildings : at that time I had no time (as it was most urgent to go back to the fields) and no funds to come to Norway and to look through archives and try to find documents that could have been so helpful for the planned restoration of the station.

It took me 6 years to convince the responsible people to let me do something for this whaling station, namely to restore it. But finally, in 2000-2001 the Territorial Administration gave me the green light and the money to begin the work. Three specialists – a land surveyor and 2 carpenters – came along with me to undertake the restoration of a workshop and of a piggery which were in great danger of collapsing. You will find attached some pictures of the whaling station and of our work going on.

In the beginning of next month I intend to come to Norway and to look through whaling museums and archives of which your area is so rich.
Over all, I would like to get in touch with people whose ancestors might have worked in the Norwegian whaling station in Kerguelen. It is very likely that pictures, letters, diaries may still be in some attics, here or there. Some sons or daughters, grandsons or granddaughters may have heard of their «hvalfangsthelt». Could your club help me to trace them and to get in touch with them?
As you may know, the whaling station was built by Norwegians in 1908 (or 1906 ?) and operated until the 1920s. At the very beginning it was operated by the Storm, Bull & C°.
As an appeal matter for the people of your Club, I take the liberty to attach few pictures to this mail. Would you need more pictures and more historic evidences that I could provide you with. Would some of yours be interested in a presentation of the whaling station and of the restoring work we have done that it would be a pleasure to me to do it (I will bring a CDRom with a ready made PowerPoint presentation)

I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully meeting you or some people of ØHK in Sandefjord or Tønsberg where I should be around June 3rd and for a week.

Sincerely, Jean-François LE MOUËL