In search of Franklin
History buff seeks lost British ship

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (May 26/97) - Wanted: a British sailing ship. Last seen: Mercy Bay, on Banks Island, more than 100 years ago. Reward: a slice of European naval history for all to enjoy.

An Inuvik man is working to bring together interested volunteers to find HMS Investigator, a ship that left London in 1850 to find the lost Franklin expedition. The ship never returned. But unlike Franklin, its crew survived the adventure.

David Connelly hopes to form the Northern Marine Historical Society, with discovering the Investigator as its first project.

The search for Franklin was "a watershed activity in British naval history and Arctic exploration," said Connelly, a naval reservist and historical buff.

Connelly hopes to raise a core group of volunteers and private funding to look for the Investigator, beginning this summer by boarding a Canadian Forces Aurora anti-submarine aircraft passing through Inuvik.

The plane carries state-of-the-art magnetic detection equipment, and might be useful in pinpointing metal pieces of the ship during its search for submarines. A crew from the Discovery Channel will also be aboard the aircraft for the same reason, Connelly said.

Connelly was excited by a recent rumor that a pilot flying over the area had seen a ship-like shadow in the water near Mercy Bay. It's not known whether there's anything left of the ship, which was last seen about 1890 by Inuit travelling through the area.