Parks Canada will lead two separate Arctic archaeological surveys this summer in search of three vessels associated with the historic quest for the North-West Passage – the ongoing search for Franklin's HMS Erebus and Terror and a new survey related to HMS Investigator and its associated land sites. The exploration of the North-West Passage has captured public imagination for more than 160 years and these surveys come with great anticipation.
Two British vessels, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were lost in the Arctic during Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845 voyage to discover a northwest passage. By 1847, fears that Sir John Franklin and his crew had met with tragedy prompted a flurry of rescue efforts from Britain and the United States, including an 1850 Royal Navy mission that deployed Captain Robert John LeMesurier McClure, of the 66-man strong HMS Investigator. Eventually locked in ice after wintering twice, McClure and his crew abandoned ship leaving behind a cache of equipment and provisions on the shore of what is now part of Aulavik National Park.
Much of Canada's human history is revealed through the work of Parks Canada archaeologists. Often the treasured resources they uncover are the only piece of evidence that exists to tell us the stories of Canada’s past. Through its work, Parks Canada is leading the way in the protection of Canada’s historical heritage. These surveys will provide important new information that will add to the body of the research on the early exploration of Canada’s North – a critical piece of our shared history. Join us as we embark on this journey of discovery into our Arctic past and allow us to inspire Canada’s present and future generations.