Parks Canada Guided Tour Inside HMS Terror

In 1845, Sir John Franklin set sail from England
with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in search of a Northwest Passage across what is now Canada’s
Arctic. After being lost for over 170 years, the wreck
of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014 followed by HMS Terror in 2016. At the beginning of this year’s research
season, Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team traveled to the wreck of HMS Terror
aboard the RV David Thompson — Parks Canada’s new Research Vessel. The Government of Canada’s on-going exploration of the Franklin wrecks is a collaboration with the Inuit Heritage Trust and based on the advice of the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee. The goal is to explore the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site to better understand the events of the Franklin Expedition. This national historic site is one of the most unique national treasures in Canada. That’s why, with the exception of Inuit harvesting rights, access is strictly prohibited without a special permit. This is one of the largest, most complex underwater archeological exploration in Canadian history. Over seven days, under exceptional weather
conditions, the interior spaces of the wreck of HMS Terror were scientifically and systematically
explored for the first time. The two fabled shipwrecks are situated near
King William Island in western Nunavut and are important events in the history of the
Canadian Arctic. The wreck of HMS Terror lies majestically on the seabed. The bow of the wreck is particularly spectacular with its bowsprit that slices through the blurry waters. These images serve as confirmation that HMS
Terror has been well-preserved by the cold deep water of Terror Bay and layers of protective
sediment. The ship’s wheel remains upright, having
withstood the test of time. A small boat, originally suspended from HMS
Terror’s davits on the upper deck, now rests alongside the ship. To explore the interior of the ship, a small
remotely operated vehicle is inserted into openings on the upper deck. In the darkness of the lower deck, partitions
separating different living spaces are still in place. In the forecastle — the sailors’ communal
living space near the bow of the ship, shelves on the inside walls bear witness to meals
taken in groups, which was a daily ritual for sailors far from home. Towards the stern, a long corridor leads through
the darkness, revealing the open doors of individual officers’ cabins. A chamber pot, writing desk, bunk, and drawers. Each cabin is a personal world now frozen in time. Two firearms still hang on a wall, prisoners
of rust formed over the decades. In one of the storerooms, many wooden niches
still hold upright bottles. At the stern of the ship, the gallery windows,
some of which still have their double panes, allow us to see inside what was originally
Captain Francis Crozier’s cabin, its contents trapped in ice-cold water and sediment. Inside his cabin, a work desk dominates the center of the room, with sealed drawers that almost certainly contain essential information
about the Franklin Expedition. These images confirm that the possibility
of finding written documents is not only real, but that an important number of them are likely
to be discovered. An overturned low-table lies in front of the
desk, a nearby armchair projects out of the protective sediment. To starboard, unidentified objects on shelves
are mostly covered by silt. To port, a tripod and a large case with unknown
contents. These stunning images from HMS Terror will
help unravel the secrets of the Franklin Expedition. They will take Parks Canada’s Underwater
Archaeology Team months to analyze, and, in time, the new information that they reveal
will contribute to the understanding of Inuit and historical accounts of the Franklin Expedition
and enable the stories of the sailors and officers of Franklin’s crew to be told like
never before. thousands of artifacts are still left
to be discovered as the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are explored in the future. Parks Canada recognizes the invaluable role
of Inuit, the Government of Nunavut, and all partners, in the discoveries of the Franklin
wrecks. Most importantly, the discoveries would not
have been possible without the support, guidance, advice and knowledge shared so generously
by Inuit. Working together, the Government of Canada
and Inuit are managing and protecting the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National
Historic Site and as well as the important role of Inuit in sharing the fascinating story
of the Franklin Expedition wrecks and their extraordinary knowledge of the Arctic with
Canadians and the world. The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site is protected by a restricted
area and activity order on the recommendation of the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee. Entering the site without a permit is an offence
under the Canada National Parks Act, and is punishable by a fine of up to $500,000. The wrecks sites are actively and remotely
monitored by the Government of Canada, in partnership with Inuit Guardians based in
Gjoa Haven. These restrictions do not affect the right
of access by Nunavut Inuit for harvesting as provided in the Nunavut Agreement.


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