An Inuit family says a box that was hidden for over 80 years in the Arctic contains documents linked to the doomed Franklin Expedition.
Over the weekend, the Porter family in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, dug up the small box with the help of an archeologist.
"We knew we were looking for a wooden box, not a particularly large box. We worked our way down and sure enough, about two feet down, we got to the top of some wood," said Doug Stenton, director of culture and heritage for Nunavut.
The exact contents of the unopened, sand-filled box will not be known until the Canadian Conservation Institute carefully examines it, which should take about three weeks.
"When I get it back to Ottawa, I will be photographing it, X-raying it to see what's in the box before we start to dig the sand out," said Tara Grant of the Canadian Conservation Institute.
The box was buried years ago by George Washington Porter Jr. below a large stone cairn. Inside, he carefully placed some documents believed to be connected to the British Franklin Expedition — Sir John Franklin's attempt to navigate the Northwest Passage in the 1840s.
"The day my dad told me, I knew it was very important," said Chester Porter, the son of George Washington Porter Jr.
Chester Porter said he kept the secret to himself for 30 years.
"I think it was time to let my brothers know what my dad did, where he buried the Franklin records," he said.
Franklin's entire crew perished from starvation, scurvy and lead poisoning. Countless attempts to find any trace of Franklin have come up empty and documents are very rare.
"I'm very relieved. I feel human again, not have to think about what's under the ground," Porter said.