Over one hundred and seventy years ago, British explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew went missing while searching for a Northwest Passage. Over time, Inuit traditional knowledge (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) combined with new knowledge and modern technology, led to the discovery of the wreck sites of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Today, there is still much to learn from the story of these shipwrecks.
Inuit are an integral part of the Franklin story, and co-manage with Parks Canada the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site. Living on the land, sea and ice in the King William Island area, they were first-hand witnesses to the Franklin Expedition, and they helped contribute to the search for the lost vessels over the ensuing years. In 2014, Inuit knowledge helped the Government of Canada and other partners finally discover the wreck of the HMS Erebus. The location of the second ship was discovered in 2016 as part of this multilateral partnership. Since the discoveries, Inuit have been working collaboratively with Parks Canada to manage this national historic site.
HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and the 129 men on board were lost during Sir John Franklin’s tragic 1845 expedition to chart Canada’s Northwest Passage. The lost vessels were sought for more than 160 years, and were finally located in 2014 and 2016.
The disappearance of Sir John Franklin and his crew during his expedition in search of the Northwest Passage, Inuit culture and knowledge related to the expedition, and the recent discoveries of his ships, the HMS Erebus and Terror, provide many interesting modern day opportunities for learning.
The location of the Erebus and Terror had been a mystery for over 150 years, after Sir John Franklin and his crew went missing in 1846. But with the powerful combination of traditional Inuit knowledge and modern technology, the ships were discovered in 2014 and 2016, resting on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean near King William Island, also known as Qikiqtaq.