Experts rethinking historic Franklin Expedition

After recovering more than 350 artifacts from the 19th-century wreck of the HMS Erebus last fall, underwater archeologists are reshaping their theories about what happened during the doomed Franklin Expedition.

In 1845, British explorer John Franklin set sail from England with nearly 130 crew and two ships, the Erebus and Terror, in search of a Northwest Passage. A year later, the ships became stuck in ice in present-day Nunavut. Franklin’s ships and crew were last seen by Inuit on King William Island, and a massive search followed for nearly two centuries.

In September 2014, Parks Canada announced the discovery of the Erebus wreckage while Terror was found two years later.

“The results from the 2019 Franklin research missions were truly remarkable. It was the most productive and successful one to date,” said Parks Canada underwater archaeologist Marc-André Bernier during a press conference on Feb. 20.

While it was previously believed the crew abandoned the ships, it’s now thought they “did reintegrate a ship, sailed down further, and then abandoned it again,” Bernier said.

In 2015, a three-stamp series (Scott #2851-56) issued by Canada Post highlighted the Franklin Expedition.

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