In 1845, Sir John Franklin departed England on a quest to traverse the last uncharted section of the fabled Northwest Passage. His ships became icebound high in the Canadian Arctic and Franklin, with his crew of 128 men, was never heard from again. For more than 150 years, the fate and final resting place of Franklin’s lost expedition was one of the greatest mysteries of Canadian history.
But it’s a mystery no longer – and now Vancouverites can get the inside scoop at a special new exhibition at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, launching March 23.
In 2014, after years of scouring the Arctic waters around Victoria Strait, a Canadian search team located the remains of Franklin’s vessel, the HMS Erebus, remarkably preserved after all this time. Sonar picked up tantalizing details of the ship, including the hull, deck planking and objects onboard. Underwater archaeologists subsequently recovered dozens of artifacts, ranging from a canon to the wheel of the ship, plates, a boot and mariners’ tools.
Now replicas of some of those artifacts, as well as in-depth displays about the expedition itself, are coming to Vancouver. The special micro-exhibit at the Vancouver Maritime Museum is part of a partnership with the Royal Ontario Museum and Parks Canada and is also being shown at museums across the country.
The Franklin Exploration kicks off on March 23 with a special Parks Canada presentation at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Join along online starting at 11 a.m. for an interactive presentation about the Franklin Expedition and the latest discoveries. From 2 p.m.-4 p.m., stop by to view and handle reproductions of real artifacts from the HMS Erebus, including an illuminator, a patterned plate and a small replica of the HMS Erebus bell. Guests can even experiment with writing underwater like the Parks Canada divers who recovered the artifacts.
Special events continue on March 24 with another Parks Canada presentation (with replica artifacts) at the museum from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., followed by a live lecture on the search for Franklin’s lost ships from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. (Register in advance here.)
For more details, visit the Vancouver Maritime Museum website.