Government of Canada announces plans for this year’s exploration of the Franklin wrecks
Largest, most complex underwater archeological undertaking in Canadian history continues in partnership with Inuit
August 16, 2019
by Parks Canada, one of co-organizers and presenters of Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, now on view at the Anchorage Museum
In 1845, Sir John Franklin set sail from England with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in search of a Northwest Passage across what is now Canada's Arctic. After being lost for nearly 170 years, Inuit Qauijimajatuqangit combined with cutting-edge science, and the perseverance of a broad group of partners, led by Parks Canada and involving Inuit and the Government of Nunavut, the wreck of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014 followed by HMS Terror in 2016.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, and the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee announced this year’s plans for the largest, most complex underwater archeological undertaking in Canadian history. Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team has set sail aboard the RV David Thompson - Parks Canada’s newest research vessel - to uncover more of the secrets from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.
Learn more about the Franklin Expedition in the exhibition Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, now on view. This exhibition was developed by the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, Canada), in partnership with Parks Canada Agency and the National Maritime Museum (London, United Kingdom), and in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Heritage Trust.
Parks Canada and Inuit will work collaboratively on the exploration of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. This year, Parks Canada’s archeological research will focus on 3D structural mapping of HMS Terror and exploring the interior of the wreck using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and an HD point-of view camera. The archeological research on HMS Erebus will focus on the excavation of strategic areas of the wreck, including the officer’s cabins and the lower deck. Parks Canada believes there are potentially thousands of artifacts remaining on the wrecks that will help unveil more of the Franklin story. For the work on HMS Erebus, RV David Thompson will tow the archaeological support barge, Qiniqtiryuaq, which houses three containers for a lab, storage and equipment space, and a hyperbaric treatment chamber.
Since 2017, a Guardian program has been in operation at the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site, involving Inuit from Gjoa Haven in the protection and monitoring of the Franklin wrecks and helping integrate Inuit knowledge into Parks Canada’s operations and management of the national historic site.
During a community event in Cambridge Bay prior to the departure of Parks Canada’s underwater archeology team to the site of HMS Terror, Parks Canada showcased the RV David Thompson, which serves as the main operational platform for the investigation of the Franklin wrecks. A similar event will take place in Gjoa Haven prior to Parks Canada’s underwater archeological team heading to the site of HMS Erebus.
Photo courtesy of Parks Canada