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The Franklin searches: 1848-2011

For more than 160 years, explorers and scientists have sought clues and answers

Last Updated: June 29, 2012

Sir John Franklin and his crew of 129 men set out from Britain in search of the Northwest Passage in 1845. The Admiralty hadn't heard from Franklin by 1847, and by 1848 concern was widespread. Dozens of expeditions were dispatched in the following years in the hope that Franklin and his crew might be alive somewhere waiting for rescue.

Once Franklin's death was confirmed in documentation left behind by his crew, focus shifted to finding out exactly what had happened to him and his crew and to their ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Use the timeline below to read about the search for Franklin, from the initial rescue attempts launched years after his departure to the archeological quests for relics and answers.

Sources: The Canadian Encyclopedia, Parks Canada, Frozen in Time: Unlocking the Secrets of the Franklin Expedition, Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: Inuit Testimony


Franklin's Arctic disaster

Modern searches for Franklin