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The mysterious Franklin disappearance

The Story

It's been called "one of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries," declares CBC's Pamela Wallin. In 1845, English explorer John Franklin and his crew embarked on a search for the Northwest Passage. They disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to them captured contemporary imaginations. A century and a half later, people are still fascinated - especially since the relatively recent discovery of several bodies from the expedition. In this 1994 TV clip, Canadian writers including Margaret Atwood and Mordecai Richler weigh in on the myth and mystery of the Franklin expedition. 

Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Sept. 14, 1994
Guest(s): Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, John Harrington, Anne Keanleyside, Barry Ranford, Mordecai Richler, David Woodman
Host: Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Carol Off
Duration: 19:10
Archival images: Toronto Reference Library

Did You know?

• For years following the Franklin disappearance, countless search parties set out to find the crew.
• A 1982 Globe and Mail article explained that these 19th-century searches for Franklin and his crew had some unexpected results: "The search for Franklin filled in most of the remaining blank spots on the map of the Arctic. It also filled considerable space on library shelves, as the more literate members of the various crews kept journals which were later published to meet insatiable public appetite."

• Analysis of remains found in the 1980s and 90s suggested cannibalism among the crew.
• Theories on what exactly happened on the Franklin expedition continue to unfold, but in 2014 HMS Erebus was discovered under the ice, followed by the discovery of HMS Terror in 2016 - in Terror Bay. 


Breaking the Ice: Canada and the Northwest Passage more