This week I went to Questacon to listen to an Archeologist, Marc-Andre Bernier, talk about the famous Franklin expedition. It’s an expedition I’d heard of over the years. I knew there was a cannibalism myth surrounding it, but more importantly, I knew it was put together to find a route through the artic to the other side of the world.

For the last nine years, Parks Canada in consultation with the local Inuit community has been searching for the wrecks of the Royal Navy ships the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror that departed from Greenhithe, England, in 1845. Before the wrecks were found in 2014 and 2016 we had limited knowledge of what happened to the crew of these ships.  Here’s what we knew before the wrecks were found:

  1. Many others had tried to find out what happened to the HMS Erebus and Terror including the Breadalbane (1853) and HMS Investigator (1853).
  2. There was a letter that made it back to England in 1859, written by the crew of the HMS Erebus. It which told of Franklin’s death and 23 crew members that had similarly perished under unknown circumstances. It also mentioned the 105 remaining survivors left the ships to try and get back to Back’s Fish River on foot.

Oh, did I forget to mention that after Augustus 1845 none of the crew was seen alive again?

Since 2008 Marc-Andre Bernier and his team have been filling in the gaps when it comes to the Franklin expeditions. They have plotted out the course people thought the ships took through the artic and adjusted it based on the location of the wrecks. Numerous artefacts have already been undercovered including the HMS Erebus’s bell.

This year and into the future the team plans more explorations of HMS Erebus. This will include some challenging underwater archaeology as they excavate the ship. As for me, I look forward to hearing about the results of future excavations as its really exciting to finally have some answers about the “Franklin expedition mystery.”

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome