Harper & HMS Erebus

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Keith McClary
Harper & HMS Erebus

National Geographic

So in 2008 Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister, decided to launch a new search for the lost Franklin ships. It was a crafty way of packaging a political agenda with the shiny wrapping of an adventure that speaks to the heart of Canadian nationalism.

Harper demanded strict control over all federal science. So when the 2014 expedition found H.M.S Erebus, it was the best-kept secret in Canada. No one was allowed to tell even the captain of the Coast Guard icebreaker, the lead vessel on the expedition, until they had gone through a step-by-step protocol notifying federal officials up the line, all the way to the prime minister. It was several days after the discovery that I found out, even though I was living aboard the Coast Guard vessel and was a cabin mate with the head of the Parks Canada marine archaeology team, the first people to set eyes on the wreck.