Britain will give historic Franklin wrecks to Canada

HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are shown in the Illustrated London News published on May 24, 1845. (Illustrated London News/Getty Images)
The U.K. government has announced it will gift two recently-found wrecks from the historic Franklin expedition to Canada, while holding back a small sample of artifacts for its own museums.

It was in 1845 that Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin set sail from England to try to chart the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic with two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror. While trying to navigate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, the ships became stuck in ice off King William Island.

Wrecks found with Indigenous know-how, technology
The ship’s bell of HMS Erebus was found on the deck of the sunken wreck. (Parks Canada)

The crews decided to abandon the ships and try to trek overland to the south. No one survived. Many attempts were made to find the wrecks of the two ships but it took Indigenous know-how and improved technology to finally find them in 2014 and 2016.

The transfer of ownership is expected in the coming weeks.

It will not be all smooth sailing though. CBC reports that the Inuit have asked the Canadian government to recognize their ownership rights over the wrecks under a 1993 land-claims agreement that gives these Indigenous people joint ownership with Canada of any archaeological finds.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian government invests over $35M to preserve Indigenous languages in the North, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland looks to put education, environment at top of Arctic agenda, Yle News

Norway: PHOTO REPORT: Tundra children return from school, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Activists say use of Finnish in Sweden is being restricted, Yle News

Russia: Population growth in military towns of Kola Peninsula, Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: New book tells untold story of black soldiers who built the Alaska Highway, Alaska Public Media

Lynn Desjardins, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Lynn has dedicated her working life to journalism. After decades in the field, she still believes journalism to be a pillar of democracy and she remains committed to telling stories she believes are important or interesting. Lynn loves Canada and embraces all seasons: skiing, skating, and sledding in winter, hiking, swimming and playing tennis in summer and running all the time. She is a voracious consumer of Canadian literature, public radio programs and classical music. Family and friends are most important. Good and unusual foods are fun. She travels when possible and enjoys the wilderness.

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