To Find the Hand of Franklin Reaching For the Beaufort Sea
September 9, 2014 10:07 AM   Subscribe

One of the Franklin Expedition ships has been found. The Franklin Expedition set off to find the fabled Northwest Passage in 1845.

Doomed Arctic Expedition fans can have a memorial listen to the classic Stan Rogers alternative Canadian National Anthem, Northwest Passage, or the lovely 1878 ballad sung by Mícheál Ó Domhnaill with Kevin Burke on fiddle, Lord Franklin.

Previous magnificent post on the fate of the Franklin Expedition, to which it would be sheer hubris to attempt to add.
posted by Erasmouse (93 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
HOLY SHIT THIS IS HUGE.
posted by Earthtopus at 10:17 AM on September 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


It took me three full read-throughs to realize that the gold-toned image at the top of the article is in fact the image of the ship on the ocean floor and not an interesting artistic work they chose to add for exciting dramatic purposes.

This somewhat less informative article
has a super big/hi-res copy of the photo.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:19 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here is the first ship-found post from one of my favorite Franklin blogs.

I'd love to know the depth of the find.

And apparently they've been finding relics on land, too.

Wow.
posted by Earthtopus at 10:22 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is so incredibly exciting. I'm having a total history geek freakout over this.
posted by aclevername at 10:22 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Addendum:very brief video footage underwater.
posted by Erasmouse at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2014


This is a great. I have long been fascinated with tales of arctic and antarctic exploration and the Franklin expedition has always loomed large.

Obligatory reference to the Dan Simmons book The Terror.
posted by marxchivist at 10:26 AM on September 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


OMG! and I mean that. I've been reading about this horrific and haunted expedition for years. A friend crewed on the recent summer expedition which sadly didn't find any evidence of the boats or wreckage, and after that I'd come to believe that it was just too unlikely that any remains would ever be found, let alone as intact as this wreck appears to be.
posted by jokeefe at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Terror is fantastic.
posted by echocollate at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


“This is truly a historic moment for Canada,” Harper said. “Franklin’s ships are an important part of Canadian history given that his expeditions, which took place nearly 200 years ago, laid the foundations of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty."

Right. Perhaps this is what it takes to have research expeditions funded in today's Canada-- the possibility of coming up with something to strengthen the border and lay further claim to the Arctic before the Russians do.
posted by jokeefe at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


On a less cynical note, it's thrilling to read that Inuit oral history regarding the location of the wreck (east of Hat Island) is in fact accurate.
posted by jokeefe at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2014 [28 favorites]


Just as I always suspected! It was found off the coast of Bermuda. Franklin took all the money for the expedition and went on vacation.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Satellite image of Hat Island.
posted by jokeefe at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2014


Ugh. Why is Harper announcing this, like he had anything to do with it? Very Putinesque.

(Also, hey BBC, Inuit is already plural -- singular Inuk -- so you don't need to add an s.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


In my mind's eye, the wreck is ruled over by a slimy, tentacled creature that looks a lot like Stephen Harper.

...and beaten to the first punch by Sys Rq
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:45 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Very exciting find. Does anyone know how long it takes to excavate a wreck like this? Or will they simply take pictures and leave the relics below?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2014


How far off are we from seeing Harper out hunting bears shirtless on horseback?
posted by poffin boffin at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


The expedition's disappearance shortly after became one of the great mysteries of the age of Victorian exploration.

I'm not really sure how much of a mystery it really was. What happened was, they died, in the middle of nowhere, which is where they had set out for, and surely people knew that there wasn't much chance of finding survivors.
posted by thelonius at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ice of glory!
posted by rewil at 10:56 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


The lack of almost any written records, no sign of either of the ships themselves, and, for a long time, very little in the way of human remains made it a pretty big mystery.

And people clung to the belief of survivors for quite some time; moreso since Lady Franklin spent most of the next several decades outfitting expeditions.
posted by Earthtopus at 10:58 AM on September 9, 2014


The thing about her leaving cans of food on the ice was really way too poignant for a tuesday afternoon at the office.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


it's cool I'll just be over here sniffling while re-watching the end of Due South and not at all singing along ferociously to Stan Rogers

the fact that I am surrounded by palm trees is making this slightly ridiculous but I do not care
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


And, even after the hope of survivors had faded, the hope of finding written records (or, again, the ships themselves this were inconveniently missing) kept people a-speculating right up through and including, oh, this thread.

Man, what a find.
posted by Earthtopus at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know how long it takes to excavate a wreck like this?

The Mary Rose was in British waters, 3km from Portsmouth and 11m down at low tide, to raise it more or less intact took about 2½ years. Prior to that there been about 8 years of archaeology.

I would imagine these conditions are more difficult.
posted by epo at 11:06 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


it's cool I'll just be over here sniffling while re-watching the end of Due South and not at all singing along ferociously to Stan Rogers

When I clicked that link I realized that I had heard (and loved) the song before, but didn't have any idea where I knew it from. The last episode of Due South is the answer. Thank you.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:07 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's more information on the Victoria Strait Expedition here-- their purview is larger than just the Franklin expedition. There's a little bit about the technology involved here; excavation, documentation, and access will all depend on where exactly it is/the depth/conditions/etc. but I kind of assume humans will be restricted to using vehicles and not diving in drysuits in order to access it. There are more updates from the expedition here and some additional photos and banter here.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


This also seems like a pretty good press release rundown of every agency and funding partner involved; it also goes into the Story of Canada theme and background a little more.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:12 AM on September 9, 2014


There's a great previous metafilter post here on modern icebreakers in the Arctic (including my favorite anecdote about the 1893 polar expedition of the Fram). Also check out this post, linking to 20,000+ photographs of polar explorations from 1845-1960. Plus this one about recent finds from the Shackleton expedition to Antarctica.

I love this stuff. Thanks, Erasmouse.

(Oh, heyyyy, and meanwhile, didja know that Putin is starting to (re)build new Arctic naval bases? I mean... of course he is.)
posted by argonauta at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


There hasn't been any mention of how deep it is, has there? I am rereading various articles and coming up blank.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2014


In my fantasy world, Stephen Harper decides he needs to match Putin's record of cornball macho stunts, repeatedly humiliates himself, and is finally mauled by a bear.
posted by Naberius at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


it's thrilling to read that Inuit oral history regarding the location of the wreck (east of Hat Island) is in fact accurate.

That or they have great ... Inuition. /runs away

Also: not Sutton Hoo-level awesome but still this destroys.
posted by resurrexit at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2014


I haven't seen anything confirmed about the depth or the wreck site and I don't know if the photos reveal anything about the depth, unfortunately. However, there's a cool very short video of the wreck here as well as the photos.


ps if everyone isn't listening to Stan Rogers right now you are missing out
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


The CBC has been documenting this search for quite some time, in part due to Peter Mansbridge's interest, which he expands upon the overall sense of purpose. It's not just Harper; there are many people across numerous fields of interest who have been active at looking for the Franklin Expedition.

Exciting news. And I love the oral history angle; it was right where they said it was.
posted by myopicman at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is cool and all, but I don't see how it affects one way or the other Canada's Arctic sovereignty or its ownership of the Northwest Passage.
posted by Flashman at 11:31 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Next up: the Mary Ellen Carter
posted by mhum at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Obviously, they must have discovered something ancient and horrible in the furthest reaches of the Arctic wastes. I mean, have you seen Thor's Peak? Who knows what the hell else is up there!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


This has been mentioned but seriously, if you haven't read The Terror, do yourself a favor and read it. It's just an amazing goddamned adventure story that's compelling and scary and strange and well-written and well-researched and just plain fucking awesome.
posted by ORthey at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Obviously, they must have discovered something ancient and horrible in the Arctic wastes. I mean, have you seen Thor's Peak? Who knows what the hell else is up there!

YES. Or Smilla's Sense of Snow! (I'm trying to reference it without a spolier alert but MAN, it so freakin' good)
posted by argonauta at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Part of me is still pretty giddy about the whole thing but part of me wishes I hadn't found out until there was a lot more data to eagerly and avidly pore over.

And The Terror is...alright for what it is, but the "Inuit magic is real" and the author's favorite member of the expedition

(spoiler alert?)

getting to Dance With their Wolves is more than a bit off-putting.
posted by Earthtopus at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


The whole sovereignty angle is just Harper's political cover for blowing millions on what amounts to his hobby, while simultaneously shredding Canada's scientific capacity and reputation.
posted by Poldo at 11:39 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


it's cool I'll just be over here sniffling while re-watching the end of Due South and not at all singing along ferociously to Stan Rogers

Curse you. Hard enough to watch the boys riding off in the sunset but that clip showed Fraser's farewell with his father AND IT STILL HURTS!
posted by Ber at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:45 AM on September 9, 2014


I honestly withheld enthusiasm for this on the assumption that this was the Harper Gov PR machine looking for some good news coverage until I confirmed with an archaeologist friend - this is apparently the real deal. I am still perturbed that Harper is all over this, but nevertheless, this is an iconic piece of Canadian history in the making.
posted by LN at 11:47 AM on September 9, 2014


"From the images it is clear that a huge amount of evidence will be preserved from the expedition, possibly even including the remains of the men and maybe, just possibly, some of their photographs,"

More on the Franklin Daguerreotypes.

Not likely, but how amazing would it be to find some 1840's daguerreotypes and related equipment on board?
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 11:52 AM on September 9, 2014


That sonar image is haunting.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2014


If only they could have waited 170 years! The NW passage is now open almost year round according to National Geographic.
posted by Cranberry at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2014


How far off are we from seeing Harper out hunting bears shirtless on horseback?

Harper doesn't need all that. He has amazing hair
posted by philip-random at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"The Canadian government began searching for Franklin's ships in 2008 as part of a strategy to assert Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, which has recently become accessible to shipping because of melting Arctic ice."

Sigh.
posted by Librarypt at 12:03 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't see how it affects one way or the other Canada's Arctic sovereignty or its ownership of the Northwest Passage.

Yeah, it's a bit "We burned down the White House!" -- No, we didn't. English people from England did that. This, too.

There's a gulf of difference between Canadian sovereignty and British imperialism, and to conflate the two is moronic at best and a big ol' racist lie at worst.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:07 PM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Semi-related: I just finished In the Kingdom of Ice, about the 1879 polar expedition of George de Long (I avoided spoilers, since I hadn't heard of him) and that was one of the best things I've ever read. Super exciting story, crazy newspaper baron, etc. Even if you find non-fiction kind of dry sometimes, READ THIS BOOK!

I mean before they ever leave a guy pees into an open grand piano in front of a room full of New York elites. What's not to love?
posted by freecellwizard at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


How far off are we from seeing Harper out hunting bears shirtless on horseback?

Harper doesn't need all that. He has amazing hair


Unfortunately, Elixirs of Love do not work on dire bears.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2014


Harper doesn't need all that. He has amazing hair

He does, doesn't he? I wonder how much he paid for it.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2014


I...did not care for The Terror. The best non-fiction book I've read about the Franklin expedition (and Arctic exploration in general; also, one of the best non-fiction books of any kind I've ever read) is Barrow's Boys: The Original Extreme Adventurers: A Stirring Story of Daring Fortitude and Outright Lunacy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


He does, doesn't he? I wonder how much he paid for it.

It's full of secrets.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:29 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


About two years ago, Parks Canada was handed budget cuts that resulted in about 1,600 layoffs and hundreds of other positions were made part-time. As part of that, their team of archaeologists was reduced from 32 to 4, nationwide. This was collateral damage from the Harpter government's desire to reduce and silence the federal science program.

The one outfit that survived with an increased budget? Parks Canada's underwater archaeology unit, responsible for this find.

This is pure politics. I mean, it's an exciting find, but all those archaeological sites on Federal Lands dating to the last 13,000 years of Canada's history, essential to First Nations', but not as relevant to Arctic Sovereignty, are left untended and at risk.
posted by gnome de plume at 12:29 PM on September 9, 2014 [32 favorites]


I liked The Terror a lot. Read it in the middle of the summer but by the end of the book I was cold and shivering. It's a fantastic fictionalization of the Franklin Expedition AND it has a yeti-like monster picking people off one by one. What's not to like?
posted by zardoz at 12:30 PM on September 9, 2014


this is really cool, but 'biggest discovery since tutankhamun'? it's a shipwreck from 150 years ago
posted by p3on at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is pure politics. I mean, it's an exciting find

Yeah, I totally agree. It's not really all that exciting, compared to what we could be learning about other sites. In Alaska right now one Native group is working with archaeologists to document a site that would otherwise be lost to coastal erosion (I read a great article on Google news). Typically they wouldn't allow excavation but because the site will otherwise be lost local families and students are working with university staff to excavate, interpret and preserve everything from the settlement. That's exciting stuff.

We already know everything we possibly could about what's on that boat from the exhaustive contemporary record keeping. Personally, I think we should say a few prayers to various deities, maybe toss some flowers in the water and leave the dead undisturbed.
posted by fshgrl at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, that wee ship lying broken in the cold dark sea. Those brave and foolish men.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


How many desks can they make out of this one?
posted by Thing at 12:43 PM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can someone list a few books for anyone who is interesting in reading a bit more about the history surrounding this expedition?

Please and thank you.
posted by Fizz at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2014


"We already know everything we possibly could about what's on that boat from the exhaustive contemporary record keeping."

...uh, the whole point of why this is exciting is because other than a single note hastily scrawled around a boilerplate form we have no records whatsoever about what happened to these ships, other than a trail of corpses, some paltry physical remains, and the oral histories of the Inuit and the written reports of the dozens of expeditions that failed to find much else.

The dearth of archaeological funding is of course to be deplored, but I don't understand that reaction at all. Frankleniana is one of my fandoms, as my hovering over this thread should attest. :)

Here is a curated list of books on the topic that I have found useful, Fizz.
posted by Earthtopus at 12:59 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Mefi's own Mary Ellen Carter posted here half an hour ago. We shouldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:12 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Since everyone is talking about Franklin novels, The Discovery of Slowness is one of the most torturously boring novels I have ever read, so maybe skip that one.
posted by oulipian at 1:13 PM on September 9, 2014


epo: I would imagine these conditions are more difficult.
Nicely underphrased.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:26 PM on September 9, 2014


On a less cynical note, it's thrilling to read that Inuit oral history regarding the location of the wreck (east of Hat Island) is in fact accurate.

No disrespect to the Inuit, but this particular wreck is way north of Hat Island.
posted by echo target at 1:28 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why is Harper announcing this, like he had anything to do with it?

Maybe he is hoping to get a new desk out of the deal. You know, match up to Obama's.
posted by Winnemac at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2014


It's not really all that exciting, compared to what we could be learning about other sites. In Alaska right now one Native group is working with archaeologists to document a site that would otherwise be lost to coastal erosion (I read a great article on Google news).

I admit that I'm not Canadian (I love the story because my parents used Northwest Passage and sea shanties as lullabies when we were little, so I've been hearing about it all my life) and I don't even do 19th century archaeology, but I think there's room for excitement about both things. Coastal sites are awesome, very much in danger on virtually every coast (e.g. California, Florida), and often overlooked. I agree: lithic scatters are cool! Shell evidence is cool! Community outreach and involvement is the best! I didn't know about the funding situation for Park Canada archaeologists, and that's awful. At the same time, maritime archaeology is a relatively new area-- as a field it's only what, 50 years old?-- and the technology involved now is pretty breathtaking in what it allows us to excavate, explore, and document. Also, people really like shipwrecks and charismatic tragic figures, which is I think one reason why they tend to get better press. I think the answer is more public outreach and funding for historical and archaeological sites in general-- maybe discoveries like this will help convince citizens and politicians that that funding is warranted and necessary.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:32 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Mefi's own Mary Ellen Carter posted here half an hour ago. We shouldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.


Well, she is worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


echo target, that's not entirely clear yet; the press releases are confusing. Some of them, at least, refer to search areas being forced south by the ice. It's possible that the Hat island finds are being conflated with the ship finding, but it's also possible that that is in fact where they found it.

The lack of real information is a little frustrating, but I guess I can be patient. If I have to.

Edit: Here is an article which all but states that the wreck was found in a more southerly location than the search box in your link.
posted by Earthtopus at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2014


Between Drood and The Terror, my response to Simmons can best be summed up as "please stop writing about the Victorians," so...no, can't recommend. But YMMV. For people searching for other Franklin novels, Robert Edric's The Broken Lands may be interesting, although something about Edric's prose doesn't work for me at all (the total lack of affect may have something to do with it).
posted by thomas j wise at 1:43 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am so obnoxiously excited about this that I'm struggling to form a coherent comment, although it's been a couple of hours since I read the news. Terrible things happening in cold places is one of my big interests, and this is huge news.

Re: the depth of the ship, this CTV News article says that it's eleven metres below the surface of the water, five metres off the sea floor in the bow and four metres off the sea floor in the stern. That's a bit confusing -- is it balanced on something? Resting on 4-5 metres of soft matter on top of the sea floor?

I'm really enjoying the links to books and the Visions of the North blog! I'll throw my recommendation in: Frozen in Time by John Geiger and Owen Beattie. Beattie's group were the source of the lead-poisoning theory of the Franklin expedition's demise, and although that theory's now disputed, I think the book holds up as a description of their work and experiences.
posted by daisyk at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hey the Star article Earthopus links to has some really great details about how they actually discovered it. It sounds like it's in shallower water than I guessed, and that might be why they're so concerned about looting and site damage. (And protection for the remaining artifacts on land.)

Meanwhile, in Politicians Gonna Politic, the CTV article has this telling selection of quotes:
"It ultimately isn't just about the story of discovery and mystery and all these things," he said last month. "It's also really laying the basis for what's, in the longer term, Canadian sovereignty."
However Rob Huebert, an Arctic expert at the University of Calgary, said it has more to do with nationalism than sovereignty.
"The discovery of the two historical wrecks from the 1840s that sailed under the authority of Britain before Canada was even a state doesn't really extend our claims of control over the waters of the Northwest Passage," Huebert said.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:51 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, so shallow! That may continue to validate Inuit stories of a ship that had sunk (due to someone cutting a hole in the side during the wintertime to have a look around, in some tellings) such that its masts were still visible sticking up out of the water.

In any event, this can only be good for ease of access/investigation, although proximity to the surface (more physical motion, wider temperature swings) may have destroyed more of the ephemera. Wow. So excite.
posted by Earthtopus at 1:51 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mefi's own Mary Ellen Carter posted here half an hour ago. We shouldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.

Well, she is worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 16:37 on September 9


Good grief, nobody tell my husband that - he'd have me in the water in a wink.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 2:05 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


we have no records whatsoever about what happened to these ships,

I get that people are excited about this, I really do. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade. But we know what happened to those ships. They iced in, everyone drowned, starved or died from misadventure or disease.

I guess I just find the money and resources spent on finding out what happened to some rich European guy 150 years ago frustrating, given the massive cuts to Canadian scientists working on much more relevant things.
posted by fshgrl at 3:03 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I utterly agree.

I also don't quite know what to make of the fact that the history of other people searching involves shoestring budgets and inspired amateurs and possible crackpots (I'm looking in your direction, Hall) and never really finding much but the Big! Newsworthy! Find! but was made by what symbolically turns out to be a Canadian Sovereignty Robot.

In a very limited and selfish way (which armchair Franklin Mystery fandom ultimately boils down to) I find this at least a better outcome than to see them having made all those horrible decisions and spent other projects' money to not really find anything, as so many others have done.

Do you happen to have a link to the work on the eroding coastal site article you'd mentioned earlier?
posted by Earthtopus at 3:24 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I bought this lovely picture book for my library last spring. It languishes in the 811s, but I'm happy just knowing it's there.
posted by Biblio at 3:29 PM on September 9, 2014


Here is Buried In Ice: The Franklin Expedition from 1988 showing the excavation of the only known graves from the Franklin Expedition.
posted by scottst at 3:33 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a fantastic fictionalization of the Franklin Expedition AND it has a yeti-like monster picking people off one by one. What's not to like?

Well... appropriation and rewriting of Inuit legend and culture, one character who is a mute, mutilated, and magical Inuit woman, and other instances of First Nations othering and cultural misrepresentation?
posted by jokeefe at 3:39 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Earthopus, it was via Google news. Which knows I like science. Maybe National Geographic? Or one of the local papers. It had a lot of photos and on-site reporting so not a big news Corp.
posted by fshgrl at 4:12 PM on September 9, 2014


Possibly this Yup'ik village, Quinhagak? There are mentions of other villages with similar erosion concerns but no names given. There's a short article on similar NPS efforts and a brief description of the kinds of problems that are occurring from March here.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:35 PM on September 9, 2014


Well, she is worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock.


Good grief, nobody tell my husband that - he'd have me in the water in a wink.




Oh, I figured that was just a euphemism for getting drunk in a bar down by the port.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2014


(Back in the 1970's?) The Ontario Science Centre in Don Mills had a haunting and detailed diorama speculating about the fate of the Franklin Expedition. It depicted an ice-bound ship being dismantled, with eeire mood lighting and some creepy 'Captain's Log' audio narration. Does anyone here recall seeing this display?
posted by ovvl at 5:31 PM on September 9, 2014




This is fantastic. The fate of the Franklin expedition is one of my top two favorite historical mysteries (the location of Alexander the Great's tomb is the second.)

I'm off to cue up "Northwest Passage" on infinite repeat and look for deck plans, so I can do my own amateur speculation as to which ship this is!
posted by 1066 at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2014


Amazed that I got this far without reference to the Resolute and the Resolute Desks.
posted by SPrintF at 8:01 PM on September 9, 2014


So very cool!
posted by SisterHavana at 8:58 PM on September 9, 2014


Better then The Terror In my experience is Andrea Barrett's Voyage of the Narwhal. She begins the tale with Lady Franklin seeking money high and low to fund rescue missions, and includes various less-famous expedition member's thoughts on the wisdom of their captain's choices.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:59 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The discovery of the two historical wrecks from the 1840s that sailed under the authority of Britain before Canada was even a state doesn't really extend our claims of control over the waters of the Northwest Passage," Huebert said.

Except that Britain transferred all its claims to the Arctic to Canada in 1880. Whatever rights Britain had to the region based on Franklin's and other expeditions devolved to Canada, so the discovery is relevant in that respect.

Parks Canada was handed budget cuts that resulted in about 1,600 layoffs and hundreds of other positions were made part-time. As part of that, their team of archaeologists was reduced from 32 to 4, nationwide....
The one outfit that survived with an increased budget? Parks Canada's underwater archaeology unit, responsible for this find....
This is pure politics.


It's true that this discovery is largely due to it fitting into Harper's interest in history - that is, the "right kind" of history, consistent with traditional Euro-centric narratives of Canada's past (First Nations and other non-mainstream perspectives need not apply). He's also leveraging this for all it's worth to support his Arctic sovereignty policies. And coming across as just a big adorable history geek when he made this announcement doesn't come near to making up how he's run roughshod over almost everything that makes Canada a country to be proud of.

But I refuse to let my distaste for Harper and his Conservative junta negate my belief that this is arguably the most important Canadian archaeological find since L'Anse aux Meadows.
posted by e-man at 11:07 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Better then The Terror In my experience is Andrea Barrett's Voyage of the Narwhal.

Oh yes, the Voyage of the Narwhal is fantastic.
posted by jokeefe at 12:00 AM on September 10, 2014


As a non-Canadian, I wasn't sure what to say about Harper and the Arctic sovereignty slant on this story except that it squicked me out, so I'm grateful for the more knowledgeable voices in this thread taking the subject on. I'm super-excited about the discovery and what it could mean archaeologically, but that in no way means I want to ignore the other sides of this story!

(Twelve hours on, still excited and trying to explain why to my oblivious Swiss coworkers. Is there a way to say, "They disappeared and all died and no one knew why!" without sounding like a bit of a nut? Asking for a friend.)
posted by daisyk at 12:15 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Next up: the Mary Ellen Carter

Well, don't forget about the Antelope, the Nightingale, the Athens Queen, The Jeannie C, The Blue Dolphin, and the unnamed ship in White Squall.... did I forget any?
posted by enkd at 7:54 AM on September 10, 2014


Amazed that I got this far without reference to the Resolute and the Resolute Desks.

The previously link in the FPP goes to a super awesome Resolute mefi post from a few years back.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2014


« Older Cut square and stamped with a proper stamp of the...   |   Lock up your wives! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments