Government of Canada announces plans for this year’s exploration of the Franklin wrecks

News release

Largest, most complex underwater archeological undertaking in Canadian history continues in partnership with Inuit


August 16, 2019                        Cambridge Bay, Nunavut                 Parks Canada Agency

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.

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.

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Quotes

“The contributions of Inuit were essential in the search and discovery for the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. The support, guidance, advice and knowledge shared so generously by Inuit in the discovery of the Franklin wrecks continues to be invaluable in the on-going investigation of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and the management of the national historic site. I look forward to seeing what artifacts are recovered this year as part of Parks Canada’s ground-breaking archeological work. The Government of Canada is proud every Franklin artifact is jointly-owned with Inuit and each new discovery helps the world further unravel the story of the Franklin Expedition.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“Inuit are an essential part of the Franklin Expedition story and I am pleased to see Inuit roles related to managing the site continue to expand and evolve. Each year, as research and site operations take place, there are more and more opportunities for employment and tourism and for Inuit and Nunavut communities to share their knowledge and experience with the world. The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee looks forward to seeing what the research on the shipwrecks reveals this year and to working with Parks Canada to continue to share the important role of Inuit in this fascinating history.”

Fred Pedersen,
Chair, Franklin Interim Advisory Committee

Quick facts

  • The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site is the first cooperatively managed national historic site in Nunavut. HMS Terror was added to the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site in 2017, ensuring legal protection for the wreck site under the Canada National Parks Act. The wreck of HMS Erebus was added to the National Historic Sites of Canada Order in 2015.

  • Formed in 2016, the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, comprised of community members and representatives from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, Government of Nunavut and the heritage and tourism industry, advises on the management of the wrecks until an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement is finalized between Parks Canada and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.

  • Since 2018, all newly discovered artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are jointly-owned by the Government of Canada and Inuit. In April 2019, the Government of Canada and Inuit Heritage Trust signed a Memorandum of Understanding detailing how the two organizations will work together to protect, study, conserve and share the Franklin artifacts. 

  • The sites of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are not open to the public at this time and a permit is required to enter the protected areas; however, Parks Canada and the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee are working to develop visitor experience activities that support the long-term protection of both wreck sites.

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Contacts

Sabrina Kim
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-938-9413
sabrina.kim2@canada.ca


Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.medias-media.pc@canada.ca


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