The remains of the hull of one of the ships resting on the sea floor.

George Dvorksy of the online periodical io9, reports that “Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper was absolutely gushing yesterday [9 September 2014] when he announced the discovery of one of the lost ships from the doomed Franklin expedition,” after which he goes on to argue that what he terms an “anti-science government” has little interest in archeology, but maps its northern territories and beyond in order “to make a territorial claim on the Arctic — and its untapped resources” and thereby forestall Russian expansion. Be that as it may, readers of the Victorian Web might be more interested in what the article has to say about the Franklin Expedition's remains and the images provided by the Canadian government to the press:

Yesterday's announcement was truly a historic moment for Canada. The discovery of "Canada's Titanic" has finally solved one the country's greatest mysteries, the ultimate fate of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to the Arctic. Back in 1865, two British ships were sent to map uncharted areas of the Arctic and to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Pacific. But the ships, with a crew of 24 officers and 110 men, became trapped in ice. They were never heard from again.

Finally, after 150 years of speculation and searches, sonar images from the waters of Victoria Strait revealed the wreckage of one of the ships on the ocean floor.

Left to right: (a) Arctic sea floorAnother image of the wreckage on the . (b) An unidentified painting of the explorers abandoning their ice-locked vessel. [Click on these images for larger pictures.]

Of course, the only mystery solved — if that was indeed a mystery at all — was the location of the abandoned ships. How and why the explorers perished (sheer incompetence, ignoring Inuit methods of arctic survival, lead-poisoning from their canned goods, or a combination of all three) and that the heroes resorted to cannibalism have long been debated.


Dvorsky, George. “The Real Story Behind Canada's Sudden Interest In Arctic Archaeology.” io9 Web. 11 September 2014.

Last modified 11 September 2014