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Document confirmed Franklin's death

Note found in stone cairn on King William Island is most important document found from expedition

Last updated: July 17, 2012

Despite dozens of searches occurring over more than 150 years, only one key document from the Franklin expedition has ever been found. In 1859, a search party led by Leopold McClintock discovered a sheet of paper in a tin container on King William Island. Royal Navy ships were stocked with these documents, which were intended to be filled out and dropped off in the water or on land during the mission.

The document McClintock's men found contained two dated notes: the first, from 1847, suggested all was well. A second note, dated a year later, confirmed that HMS Terror and HMS Erebus had been abandoned and that Sir John Franklin was dead.

The original document is at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, U.K. Hover over the markers to read about what each part of the document reveals.

Sources: Parks Canada


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