PM sails the Northwest passage with the Franklin Expedition Search Team

Prime Minister Stephen Harper explores part of the Northwest Passage on board a zodiac during his ninth annual tour of Canada’s northern territories.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper explores part of the Northwest Passage on board a zodiac during his ninth annual tour of Canada's northern territories. (Photo courtesy Office of PM)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper explores part of the Northwest Passage on board a zodiac during his ninth annual tour of Canada’s northern territories. (Photo courtesy Office of PM)

Pond Inlet, Nunavut – As part of the 2014 Search for Franklin Expedition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent two nights with members of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Kingston, travelling from Pond Inlet to Arctic Bay in Nunavut. The HMCS Kingston is en route to Victoria Strait, as part of a broader 2014 team searching for the ill-fated 1845-46 Franklin Expedition vessels: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

During the course of his voyage, Prime Minister Harper and members of the Canadian Armed Forces travelled through a storied part of the Northwest Passage, actively asserting Canadian sovereignty in the region. On board the ship, Prime Minister Harper’s activities included the testing of one of the remotely operated underwater vehicles being used in the search for the lost Franklin ships, which is part of an impressive array of advanced tools that includes cutting edge Canadian technology. This voyage took place during his ninth annual Northern Tour, taking place from August 21 to 26, 2014. He was joined by Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council.

This summer, the Government of Canada and an unprecedented number of organizations from the public, private, and non-profit sectors are partnering together to locate the historic ships and the only undiscovered national historic site in Canada.

The 2014 Search for Franklin Expedition vessels will take place in the Victoria Strait and have the added benefit of furthering our knowledge in a number of priority areas, including through the collection of important scientific information about Canada’s most remote region.

Through the pursuit of common interests in the Arctic, the multi-partner collaboration will advance goals in the following key areas:

  • Celebrating Canada’s history
  • Safety and security
  • Arctic research and technology
  • Supporting Arctic communities

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada’s partners for the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition include Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), the Royal Canadian Navy, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), Environment Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), as well as the Governments of Nunavut and Great Britain.
  • Private and non-profit partners include the Arctic Research Foundation (ARF), the Royal Canadian Geographical Society who additionally brings in The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Shell Canada and One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) as partners.
  • There will be a record number of ships (four) supporting the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition: the CCG’s Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Kingston, the ARF’s research vessel Martin Bergmann, and OOE’s One Ocean Voyager, as well as a number of smaller platform vessels.
  • Some of the leading technologies to be employed will include the CSA’s RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery, high resolution multi-beam and side-scan sonar, Parks Canada’s remotely operated underwater vehicle and autonomous underwater vehicle, and DRDC’s state-of-the-art autonomous underwater vehicle, Arctic Explorer, which was developed in collaboration with private-sector partners.
  • Since 2008 and the start of the modern day Franklin Expedition searches, five Parks Canada-led searches for the Franklin Expedition ships have taken place, surveying and charting over 1,200 km of the Arctic seabed, which is equivalent to over 2,200 football fields. This year’s expedition builds on the work of the previous searches and is expected to greatly exceed the best year of mapping to date.
  • In 2012, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, with the support of the CCG, completed new surveys of a route farther south into Alexandra Strait, constituting an alternate route, around King William Island, with improved marine safety, search and rescue response time, as well as fuel economization.
  • In 2012, the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the ongoing cooperation and coordination of research, search and preservation activities regarding HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.


“It was exciting to join the Expedition team searching for Sir John Franklin’s lost ships. I am very impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the 2014 Expedition team who are using state-of-the-art Canadian technology to solve this bygone mystery. Sir Franklin’s exploration and discovery of parts of Canada’s North are an important part of our history and contributed to Canada becoming the wonderful country we enjoy today.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

“I wish the 2014 Franklin Expedition team every success as they search the frigid and unforgiving Arctic waters for the secrets of our past.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

*to see more photos of this trip click here