HALIFAX — Video taken inside HMS Erebus, one of two ships lost during the ill-fated Franklin expedition in what is now the Canadian Arctic, gives a close-up look at one of maritime history’s great mysteries.
They are images that, until now, had never been seen publicly.
Among the debris is a section of the ship’s lower deck, including a chest, with a writing desk in the background.
At the front, or bow, of Erebus, the camera pans past a post full of barnacles, to the galley — and a white-ish object identified as the stove, used to melt water and feed the crew.
It’s been 170 years since Sir John Franklin’s effort to make a Northwest Passage ended in tragedy; 129 men perished when the Erebus and HMS Terror were lost.
Divers who’ve combed through the wreckage say much of it is well-preserved, thanks to the icy waters of the Victoria Strait.
“Swimming over the decks, you feel as if you are just on an old house,” says Thierry Boyer, a Parks Canada diver. “The floors are just perfect. You can see all the wood grains and everything. It’s breath-taking to see.”
Boyer was on hand at Halifax’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Wednesday for the opening of an interactive exhibit that simultaneously went on display at nine other museums across the country.
WATCH: More coverage of the Franklin Expedition and the discovery of HMS Erebus
The story of the Franklin Expedition has been revived, since an expedition led by Parks Canada located Erebus two years ago — a find considered by some the “discovery of the century.”
With a detailed video and text display, and both French and English language options, the interactive exhibit pays tribute to an adventure that, in its day, was as ambitious as going to the moon.
“It’s difficult to put us in the period of Franklin,” said Gerry Lunn, curator of exhibitions for the Maritime Museum Of The Atlantic. “But, this story was huge when it occurred.”
The newly-released video joins a trove of artifacts retrieved from Erebus, including the ship’s bell, a cannon, sword hilts, and dishes.
They’re eye-catching treasures, even for modern-age teenagers — like the Grade 8 students who attended a simultaneous “Google Hangout” at the other museums where the video was revealed.
It was “how people were brave enough to just explore” that interested Anna Pancura, of Oxford School.
Classmate Ethan Stewart also marvels at how Franklin and his team was willing to “explore more dangerous stuff and take risks.”
Others, like Amelia Marshall, had obvious questions. She wondered “if there was any human remains that were found?”
In fact, no remains have been recovered, and neither has any sign of HMS Terror.
But, with Parks Canada planning to do more diving and exploring in coming years, who knows what they’ll find next.