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The fate of the Franklin Expedition presented in Prescott

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History's mysteries unfrozen at February Rotary event

PRESCOTT - Answers to questions about a mysterious nautical adventure that began over 170 years ago are going to be coming to the Prescott Legion on February 7.

The Rotary Club of Prescott will be hosting an evening with underwater archeologist Jonathan Moore who will be shedding some light into the dark Arctic waters that contain the secrets of a number of historical shipwrecks. It promises to be an event enjoyed by both historians and shipping enthusiasts.

In May of 1845, Sir John Franklin sailed from England with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in search of the Northwest Passage. Both Royal Navy ships, exquisitely equipped and provisioned, were initially abandoned in 1848 after becoming trapped by ice. Their crews later perished in a southward retreat. In the decades that followed, searchers found relics, human remains and a terse message from the expedition. Its grim fate, and the fact that the ships had sunk, were confirmed by later interviews with Inuit. Search and relief ships were also lost to the ice, including the Clyde-built ships HMS Investigator and Breadalbane.

To date, four shipwrecks connected to the Franklin Expedition have been found. The first came in 1980 with the discovery of the transport Breadalbane, crushed by ice off Beechey Island while resupplying the search for Franklin, his men, and ships. This was followed thirty years later, with the 2010 discovery of HMS Investigator in Mercy Bay, a ship that itself became trapped by ice while searching for Franklin. The breakthrough discovery of HMS Erebus in September 2014 was the result of a collaborative search effort initiated by Parks Canada since 2008, providing an unprecedented opportunity to shed new light on the Franklin expedition. In September 2016 came the discovery of the wreck of HMS Terror which initial examination indicates holding great archaeological potential.

Jonathan Moore will outline recent archaeological work on these wrecks - its challenges, opportunities and lingering mysteries - as well as rich new evidence now coming from these four remarkable archaeological sites.

Moore grew up in Kingston, where he got his start in both land and underwater archaeology. Jonathan learned to dive in 1988 and holds a Bachelor's degree in Classical Studies (Queen's University, Canada) and an M.Phil. in Maritime Studies (University of St. Andrews).

In 1994 he joined Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Team based in Ottawa where he is now a Senior Underwater Archaeologist. For nearly a decade he has been directly involved in the search for and study of historic ships in Canada's Arctic. He is part of the Parks Canada-led team that searched for and is now studying archaeologically the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror from the 1845 Franklin Expedition. He took part in the team's discovery of Erebus in September 2014 and four subsequent underwater archaeological expeditions to the wreck between the years 2014-2016. He participated in the team's examination of the newly discovered wreck of HMS Terror in September 2016.

Jonathan was also part of the Parks Canada team that discovered the wreck of HMS Investigator in 2010 and in 2014 he took part in an archaeological expedition to the wreck of the Breadalbane.

Tickets are $10.00. Children under 14 years of age are free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the presentation scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Durand and Associates, Hometown Heating, Fort Town Treasures and Your Family Dollar. Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the event.

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