Scene-Stealing Shipwrecks

Scene-Stealing Shipwrecks

Posted on April 16 by admin
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While everyone is going ga-ga for Titanic’s anniversary, I can confidently say I’m over the media firestorm about the centennial of this tragic event. It was, indeed, a tragedy, but my channel-surfing this weekend was consumed by historical documentaries about the building of the ship, minute-by-minute reenactments of its demise, and at least three separate networks playing James Cameron’s opus.

Thankfully there was tons of play-off hockey to watch instead. (Did anyone see Philly v. Pittsburgh yesterday?)

For some, Titanic is emblematic of the romance of travel that really sprouted in the 1900s. When more and more people could cross the open waters and explore new lands, our world, and really, our humanity, became connected in surprising ways. But still, Titanic’s glory and tragic end never really piqued my interest.

If I’m being honest, shipwrecks and marine history has never been of interest to me. I saw that movie, and sure, I can hum most of the words to Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but when I was assigned to work on Dundurn’s book about the Franklin Expedition, James Fitzjames, I realized I would need a crash coursh in shipwreck history to be able to publicize this title properly.

As I dove into online resources and flipped through the book, I found myself getting genuinely interested by this doomed mission, and consequently kept wondering how I hadn’t known anything about this sooner, and why Canadians weren’t more interested. This is, afterall, considered by many to be the greatest disaster of Arctic exploration of all time — and the remains of both the Erebus and Terror are still missing somewhere in Canada’s northern waters.

The expedition left England in 1845. It was officially declared lost by 1848. It would take until 1981 for any significant discoveries to be found in the area the Erebus and Terror were last sighted — including several artifacts and human remains. Excavations continued throughout the 1980s, into the late 1990s, and a major search for the ships remains disembarked just two years ago, in 2010. Still, no one can definitively say what happened to the Franklin vessels and crew.

Still shrouded in mystery, still so much yet to discover, and so slim the chances of finding the truth, the pieces of the Franklin Expedition certainly make for a great story. Which other ships (and shipwrecks) should people know more about? Share your thoughts in our comment section!