NEWS

Franklin expedition find kept secret for days, says team member

10/09/2014 03:38 EDT | Updated 12/09/2014 05:59 EST
One of the greatest archaeological discoveries in Canadian history was made this September, when Parks Canada underwater archaeologists finally located the HMS Erebus from Sir John Franklin's doomed 1845 Arctic expedition through the Northwest Passage.

But when the ship was first spotted by researchers, they kept their secret for days, says University of Waterloo anthropologist Robert Park. Parks Canada went to great lengths to make sure the news that researchers had found a ship didn't get out immediately, he said.

"These guys gave nothing away," said Park, who had been part of the search team since it first set out in 2008.

"People were aware that when this thing was found there would be a very complicated protocol for how the information got disseminated. We knew this was going to happen but they didn't give anybody any forewarning, so they shut down the internet on the ship, they took away all the satellite phones except for one so that nobody could blow this big news story."

Park is one of three men credited with finding two artifacts that eventually led the underwater archaeologists to the HMS Erebus. The discovery was announced with much fanfare on Sept. 9 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Listen to Parks tell that story to The Morning Edition host Craig Norris.

On mobile? Listen here

The HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were part of Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia.

The ships disappeared after they became locked in ice in 1846 and were missing for more than a century and a half. 

Franklin commanded the expedition from the Erebus and is believed to have been on the ship when he died. The wreck of HMS Terror has not yet been found.

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