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Prime Minister Harper announces the discovery of one of the two lost ships of the famed Franklin Expedition

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today the discovery of one of the shipwrecks of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845-48 British Arctic Expedition. At this time it is not clear which of the two ships, HMS Terror or Erebus, has been found because of similarities of the two vessels; however, the ship’s authenticity has been confirmed.

The discovery of the wreck was confirmed on Sunday, Sept. 7, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada. Details of where exactly the ship was found have not yet been released. 

“I’m delighted to announce that this year’s Victoria Strait Expedition has solved one of Canada’s greatest mysteries,” said Harper in a release.

“I would like to congratulate and pay tribute to all partners involved in this year’s momentous Victoria Strait Expedition, including Parks Canada, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Government of Nunavut.”
In addition to the numerous government agencies involved in this year’s search, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society had assembled a formidable group of private and non-profit partners to aid in the hunt. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, One Ocean Expeditions, the Arctic Research Foundation and Shell Canada joined the RCGS in the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition.

“This is one of the two most important undiscovered shipwrecks in the world. The discovery of a Franklin expedition ship raises the possibility that some of the enduring mysteries surrounding the expedition’s destruction can be solved,” says John Geiger, chief executive officer of the RCGS and its Head of Expedition, who had been participating in the search in Victoria Strait.

“It’s a wonderful and exciting discovery that promises to shed more light on the ill-fated expedition’s final months, weeks and days,” says Geiger, co-author of Frozen In Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition. “The Franklin Expedition, and the search to understand its fate, is at the foundation of Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic.”

All participants in the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition carried the RCGS expedition flag, and were instrumental in its success.

“For over 150 years the fate of the Franklin Expedition has remained a mystery. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is delighted to have taken part in this historic find and congratulates its partners on the success of this year’s expedition. Our team and its search speak to our collective expertise in history, science and the sovereignty of our great country. We are proud to be Canadian,” says Geordie Dalglish, a director of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and chair of its northern committee.

One Ocean Expeditions managing director and 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition partner Andrew Prossin says, “this is a great moment for Canada and Canadians from North to South. This was truly a Canadian effort combining our special spirit, know-how and innovation. It is something that we at One Ocean Expeditions are truly proud to have been a vital part of.”

Also a participant in the RCGS partnership, Robert Blaauw, Arctic theme and policy manager at Shell Canada, says “Shell is proud to be associated with the successful expedition that found one of the missing Franklin ships. This discovery is of key importance to Canadian and British history and is also a celebration of Arctic exploration. Through its partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Shell Canada looks forward to sharing the great story of the Franklin Expedition in schools throughout Canada.”

Speaking as the chair of the Arctic Research Foundation and RCGS partner, Jim Balsillie added “this is obviously a major achievement for everyone involved, one that I see as a beginning, not an end. My hope is that with this new and important milestone, Canadians can build a stronger knowledge base and engagement with the Arctic. It’s a landscape that has shaped Canadian history, influences our safety and security and holds enormous promise for the future of our Northern communities and the country as a whole.”

For more information, visit Canadian Geographic's Franklin Expedition website.

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