Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Franklin Expedition ship found

H.M.S. Terror thrown up by ice
Last week, the wreck one of the two ships of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated Northwest Passage expedition was found in the Arctic by a team led by Parks Canada underwater archaeologist Ryan Harris.

With climate change opening up potential shipping routes through the Arctic and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's interest in the north and Canadian sovereignty, it has become a political event.

Whenever I hear about the Franklin Expedition I remember working on the Glenbow Museum inventory and discovering a shoe that had been found on one of the expeditions sent looking for Franklin's ships. I had come across a number of memorable objects in that job: Sir Francis Drake's snuff box and inscribed walking cane, Nelson's punch bowl from HMS Victory, a cased Collier flintlock revolver, and a large 18 carat gold casket presented to F.M. Wolseley by the City of London, but that black leather shoe struck me less as an exhibit and more as a gruesome reminder of the harsh northern environment. What was what looked like a dress shoe doing in the Arctic anyway? I had heard horror stories from oilfield workers up there who had decided to economize on their first purchase of Arctic mukluks.

As I never watch TV news, I don't know if the discovery of the wreck has prompted the news media playing of Canadian music icon Stan Rogers' song The Northwest Passage. You would think so:

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