Britain gifts long-lost Franklin expedition ships to Canada, Inuit


GATINEAU, Que. — Canada and the Inuit are now officially co-owners of the two long-lost ships from the Franklin expedition.

Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, the British high commissioner to Canada, formally gifted the remains of HMS Terror and HMS Erebus to Canada during a ceremony at the Canadian Museum of History.

The wrecks were located in 2014 and 2016, ending more than 150 years of mystery surrounding the fate of Sir John Franklin and his 1845 Arctic expedition.

Britain agreed to the gift last fall, but formal talks took longer than expected because of differences over which artifacts Britain would keep and who would pay to recover and restore the ships.

Britain is retaining 65 artifacts already recovered from the ships, but everything else — including everything still on board the two ships — will be jointly owned by Canada and the Inuit Heritage Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving Inuit culture.

International law requires ownership of the ships to remain with the country they sailed under, meaning Britain owned the vessels even though Canada found them in Canadian waters.

The ships carry an estimated value of about C$430,000 and Britain’s Parliament had to be consulted before the gift could be finalized.


The Canadian Press