Parks Canada

Parks Canada

August 15, 2008 10:00 ET

Canada's Government to Launch Search for Historic Shipwrecks From Franklin Expedition

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 15, 2008) - Over 160 years ago, two important pieces of history were lost in the ice of the Canadian Arctic. Today, Canada's Environment Minister, John Baird, and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Loyola Hearn officially launched the expedition to search for the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, the two ships of the 19th century Franklin Expedition. Ministers Baird and Hearn were joined by the Honourable Louis Tapardjuk, Nunavut's Minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth.

"The Franklin Expedition is a key part of Canada's history of Arctic exploration. As Canada is once again asserting ourselves and protecting our sovereignty in the High Arctic, this expedition will provide important new information and will add to the body of research on the fate of these ships, said Minister Baird." "An actual discovery of these wrecks would offer unprecedented information on the exploration of Canada's North and the discovery of the Northwest Passage - a critical piece of our shared history and important to present and future generations."

The British-owned ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were lost at sea during Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845 expedition to find Canada's Northwest Passage. Given their historical significance, the vessels were designated as National Historic Sites of Canada in 1992. The lost vessels have been sought for more than 160 years, creating great anticipation for this expedition and their possible discovery. The search will officially begin on August 18.

"Canadian Coast Guard Commanding Officers, officers and crew are second to none at integrating on-water missions," said Minister Hearn. "In addition to supporting this important search for Franklin's ships, CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier will be actively providing icebreaking support to commercial shipping and maintaining navigational aids. The search area falls within uncharted waters and DFO's Canadian Hydrographic Service will provide surveying expertise and technology to help map the area of interest and nearby routes for navigational charts. Both the Canadian Coast Guard and Hydrographic Service have a long and proud history in the Arctic and we are delighted to be part of this search."

"We are pleased to be participating in the search for these ships. Locating these two important pieces of our history is a highly anticipated event," said Nunavut's Minister Tapardjuk. "This expedition will be using both Inuit oral history and the technology to search for the shipwrecks. We acknowledge the importance and the contribution of Inuit oral history to this work. We support the work which will be completed during this expedition and encourage new research materials to be shared with Nunavummiut for further understanding of our history.

Upon discovery and positive identification of the vessels, the British Government will assign ownership of any artifacts found, including the vessels, to Canada. The expedition is expected to take place for approximately six consecutive weeks, between mid-August and late September, over the next three summers.

Parks Canada is internationally recognized as a leader in the management, protection and presentation of protected areas. The Agency's Underwater Archaeology Service (UAS) will conduct the search from CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a Canadian ice-breaker provided by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Also available on the Internet at under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Chris Day
    Press Secretary
    Cellular: 613-286-6064
    Parks Canada
    National Corporate Communications Branch
    Michele Monette
    Media Relations Officer
    Government of Nunavut, Department of
    Culture, Language, Elders and Youth
    Napatchie Kolola
    Canadian Coast Guard
    Carol Bond