Our history is undeniably linked to the oceans, seaways and lakes that make up our great Canadian landscape. These bodies of water are notoriously unpredictable and can be treacherous; from our distant past to recent times, Canada’s history is filled with incidents of lost vessels—including H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror, which are at the centre of an enduring maritime mystery: the lost Franklin expedition. This is the second in the Lost Ships in Canadian Waters series that commemorates well-known vessels lost in Canadian waters, and the stories that have emerged from the events surrounding their final fate.
The reverse design features Canadian marine artist John Horton’s depiction of the Franklin expedition’s H.M.S. Erebus in the foreground, with H.M.S. Terror to starboard. Edging their way through ice-filled waters, the three-masted wooden vessels are seen travelling at a reduced speed under shortened canvas. The cool colour palette recreates the blue hues of the sky in daylight and the darker, icy waters of the Arctic. This stunning portrait situates the ships off of the northwest coast of King William Island, providing geographical context for their location when first deserted in 1848. Edge lettering bearing the names “H.M.S. TERROR” and “H.M.S. EREBUS” further commemorates the two vessels and the 129 men who were lost.
A prestigious addition to your Canadiana, history or commemorative display.