There is a free public lecture about the HMS Erebus next Thursday,
Oct. 6. While you may not know that name, you have probably heard of its last voyage, as part of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.
Ryan Harris is the lead marine archaeologist in Parks Canada’s search for the lost ships of the 1845 expedition which ended with the loss of all 129 men in the Canadian far north and may have included cannibalism.
Harris has spent the past six summers in Arctic waters searching for the vessels and in 2014 was the first person to see the image of the Erebus on the sonar screen.
He was also the first person to dive to the wreck and was featured prominently in announcements and press conferences about the discovery at the time.
Family friend and Qualicum Beach resident Herbert Sullivan jumped at the chance to hear more from Harris when he stops in the area for a visit next week.
“I just thought this was an excellent opportunity for people to hear more about it,” Sullivan said, explaining he approached some local groups about hosting it, but the timelines were too tight so he approached Mayor Teunis Westbroek and he and town council agreed to donate community centre space.
Sullivan said Harris is spending time overseeing “the final stages a refit of a coastguard ice-breaker in Victoria and is scheduled to give talks in Vancouver and Victoria,” and he managed to jump in and get him to Qualicum Beach first.
When he’s not working in the Arctic Harris is based in Ottawa, Sullivan said, pointing out they had to go through the government to get permission for the talk.
The second Franklin Expedition ship, the HMS Terror, was just discovered earlier this month and only officially confirmed Sept. 26.
“I feel like this talk has great relevance at this time,” Sullivan said, pointing out the last time he saw Harris, “he was standing beside Stephen Harper at the announcement of the last ship.”
“The site was declared a national treasure even before it was found and the fact that we have now found both, this is an event of national importance, there is a lot of interest all around the world.”
Harris will speak at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.