Thursday, August 19, 2010

Update from Franklin survey

There is now an update page from Parks Canada giving some more current information on this year's search for the ships of Sir John Franklin. According to the information there, the search area at present is indeed in the area near the Royal Geographical Society Islands; as of the last date in this posting (August 15th), the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier was located between the RGS Islands and Jenny Lind Island. I'm hopeful that upcoming responses to public questions sent via Twitter may give us some more current information; I will post a link here as soon as there is any news.


  1. As I recall Parks Canada is working off of the assumption that the ships drifted South while entirely under the influence of the ice flow. This does not allow for the ships to have been remanned and sailed somewhere else.

    Reading David Woodman's book, I'm left with the impression that one ship was taken South of the RGS islands while the other one was crushed and sunk not far West of what is now Erebus Bay.

    It's too bad that Hall wasn't able to spend more time on and around KWI. I believe we would have more details today if he had been able to stay in that area for months or longer. Not to mention he would have been able to visit Terror and Erebus Bays.

  2. If one of the ships was liberated from the ice and re-piloted, it would have likely been further south, where the ice becomes less dense as the straits widen. This would also be consistent with Inuit testimony, for if they saw a ship crushed, this must have been well south of Victory Point, as the Inuit did not know of the materials abandoned there until they heard about it through white men. Woodman believes that this sequence of events took place over a longer period of time, and that the re-manned ship was eventually anchored near O'Reilly Island.

    On the other hand, if the ships went down the channel on its western side, they could probably have not escaped the floe at all. Rae did find some fragments on the eastern coast of Victoria Island which he belatedly realized were likely from Franklin's ships; these could have been from the crushed ship.

    I personally think it likely that Parks Canada's current search pattern is more likely to turn up a sort of "debris field" than any trace of the later, possibly re-piloted vessel. But even a debris field may contain treasures -- one of the ship's engines, the ship's bell, and possibly other fragments which, being more readily observable via sonar, may speak volumes ...

  3. One of my frustrations in following these issues is the lack of a map showing these locations, along with annotated speculations on where Terror and Erebus might have been (or might be now). Can anyone point me to a good map?

  4. There are some great maps out there -- it just takes a bit of footwork. A detail of the Gould map, which shows Franklin sites, was posted to our blog back here ; a scalable color version of the full map can be had here from the Library and Archives of Canada.

  5. Latest from the Parks Canada feed:

    Parks Canada's underwater archaeologists begin their survey today, in search of |Franklin’s lost vessels, Erebus and Terror.

  6. The larger the artifact the easier to spot, and something like one of the engines would be identifiable to a particular vessel.

    Glenn M. Stein, FRGS

  7. Hi Mr. Oasis!

    Unfortunately there is no consensus at all on which engines were fitted to the Erebus and Terror - see the item at the 'Erebus and Terror Files' blog alongside.

    Let's just hope that Parks Canada can start to provide some answers to this 165 year old mystery!


  8. William, quite true about the engines -- although, if either engine were found, it would go far to help resolve the debate -- after all, in 1845, there were only a (relatively) few varieties of ex-railway engines around ...

  9. With thanks to Dave Woodman, here is a link which will give you an hourly update on the location of the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

  10. Thanks for the link to the map, Russell. It appears they are doing a fair bit of searching in Rae Strait and all the way up to Matty Is.

    Is that because of what was shown in the Gould map, with the ship possibly sailing around KWI?