Stantec advises Parks Canada on Franklin expedition shipwreck preservation

22 February 2024 2 min. read

Stantec, an Edmonton-headquartered design and engineering consultancy, provided wind and wave modeling analysis to Parks Canada to help understand climate threats to the Franklin expedition shipwreck in Nunavut.

Stantec’s work included a numerical model of current, historical, and future wind and wave patterns that can threaten the wrecks – which constitute the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site of Canada. Stantec’s research focuses on the region of eastern Queen Maud Gulf and Wilmot and Crampton Bay, as well as the western approaches to Simpson Strait and Terror Bay.

Though both wrecks are located in shallow water and are exposed to storms, waves, erosion, and sedimentation, the Erebus is particularly at risk. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of the above natural events in the Arctic, threatening the wrecks.

Sir John Franklin’s expedition set sail from England in 1845 in search of a Northwest Passage through the Arctic to unlock a swifter trade route with Asia. Franklin and his crew of 129 explorers went missing in 1846, with the exact circumstances shrouded in mystery. Poorly sealed food tins may have reduced already limited food supplies, though some mixture of icebound ships, disease, malnutrition, and the harsh Arctic climate likely accounted for the expedition’s failure and the loss of all souls.

Stantec advises Parks Canada on Franklin expedition shipwreck preservation

The wrecks were finally discovered in 2014 and 2016 near King William Island. Parks Canada has since been conducting archaeological research on the wrecks, which have been designated national historic sites.

Parks Canada recently published its 2023 seasonal archaeological research for the sites, which includes the recovery of numerous artifacts and thousands of high-quality images.

“We greatly appreciate the work of the Stantec team, who provided invaluable research to support understanding of the weather-induced threats to HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in quantifiable terms,” said Jonathan Moore, manager of Parks Canada’s underwater archaeology team.

Darren Kipping, underwater archaeologist and Stantec’s manager of the project, added, “Stantec is excited to help Parks Canada and its Inuit partners understand the environmental threats to these pieces of human history. Understanding what those potential impacts are now, and into the future, can assist Parks Canada and its partners in the study and management of the site.”