The Franklin Expedition’s sunken artifacts slowly unlock the mysteries of the voyage

A wool mitten that survived in the frigid Arctic water and a hair brush with errant strands are two of the hundreds of artifacts unearthed by Parks Canada archaeologists—each of them a clue in a search for answers stretching back to 1845 The post The Franklin Expedition’s sunken artifacts slowly unlock the mysteries of the voyage appeared first on Macleans.ca.

The Franklin Expedition’s sunken artifacts slowly unlock the mysteries of the voyage

The most stubborn wool mitten ever knit lay still underwater off remote King William Island, frozen in time by a serendipitous combination of complete darkness, frigid water, and a blanket of sediment that preserved it until Parks Canada archaeologists started poking around last year.

The mitten was one of hundreds of artifacts excavated by the federal agency that, in concert with local Inuit, delicately and strategically scoured a small number of cabins on HMS Erebus, one of the two ships that constituted the ill-fated Franklin expedition that disappeared 175 years ago on its voyage in search of the Northwest Passage—and that captures the imagination of any Canadian who hears the tale.

“You could wear it tomorrow,” says Marc-André Bernier, the manager of Parks Canada’s underwater archaeology team, of the mitten. Bernier has searched the inner recesses of Erebus since it was discovered in 2014. Every dive produces a new discovery, unseen since either the Franklin crew abandoned ship or curious Inuit explored the vessel before it finally sank. “It’s magical,” says Bernier.

Ryan Harris, a senior underwater archaeologist with Parks Canada and the first to dive near Erebus six years ago, was crawling “hand over hand” on the sea floor through dark, hazy water when he confronted the vessel. “All of a sudden this very large ship looms out of the haze,” he says. “It’s quite majestic and stately.”

For years, Parks Canada teams have swum around the outsides of Erebus and Terror, but their windows for exploration have sometimes been remarkably brief. “Ice conditions often confound our plans,” says Harris. “Sometimes we only had a day and a half or two for getting the gear and personnel up there.”

A wool mitten found on HMS Erebus was well-preserved by sediment and the dark, frigid waters (Courtesy of Parks Canada)

Finally, last summer, the divers went inside for a closer look. They’d mapped the ship, studied the chemistry and movement of the water, learned about the flora and fauna occupying nooks and crannies, and zeroed in on the rooms they guessed held the greatest bounty—sunken treasure buried beneath a century and a half of sediment.

They weren’t disappointed. Bernier would submerge for hours at a time, arriving at his “underwater office” keen to dredge as much sediment as possible. Once, he saw a gleaming light emerge and found it was a decanter with liquid still sealed inside. Harris races through a list of personal items they carefully excavated: a toothbrush with bristles; a hairbrush with errant strands still tangled together (a candidate for DNA testing); and a sealing compound that “still bears a thumbprint from the last person to seal a document.”

One of the most densely packed compartments was a pantry maintained by Edmund Hoar, the captain’s steward, who was only 23 years old when the expedition left England. Divers unearthed a lead stamp he used to mark his clothing—“Ed Hoar,” with an anchor dangling beneath the “o.”

Parks Canada’s bounty now sits in storage at a conservation facility in Ottawa’s south end. And that impressive haul, they note, represents an area of Erebus measuring only four square metres. “We touched on three of the cabins out of 20,” says Bernier.

That’s not even counting the expedition’s other sunken vessel, where the captain himself, Sir John Franklin, resided. “Terror is a very exciting prospect,” says Harris. The captain’s cabin may hold scientific instruments and daguerreotypes—primitive photographic images. “We do hold out hope we’ll come across documentary evidence,” says Bernier, of the ship’s final days.

Many mysteries remain about the movement of Franklin’s crew after the ships were lodged in ice, frozen in with no escape, and Parks Canada staff have found even more questions to answer. They discovered on Erebus a wooden object, possibly a “small piece of a ruler,” that bore the name of a sailor named Frederick Hornby. It wasn’t the first of Hornby’s personal effects discovered after he vanished. The McClintock search expedition, which unsuccessfully searched for the Franklin ships only a decade after their disappearance, found a silver spoon belonging to Hornby in an abandoned 28-foot boat off King William Island in 1859.

But Parks Canada’s divers were puzzled by the object’s presence on Erebus, because Hornby was registered as crew on HMS Terror. They have no idea how one man’s personal items ended up on the sister vessel. But every dive, they say, offers more clues.

For now, the focus remains on Erebus, the more vulnerable of the immortalized pair as its structure, less well-preserved than Terror’s, shifts in the currents. The divers say their work on Terror lags about two years behind. When they piloted a remotely operated vehicle through Terror’s cabins, the frozen-in-time images captivated the world. But Harris is itching to see it with his own eyes. “You can only do so much with robots.”


This article appears in print in the May 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Comfort in the cold.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post The Franklin Expedition’s sunken artifacts slowly unlock the mysteries of the voyage appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Source : Maclean's More   

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A peek inside COVID-19 pantries across the GTA shows much more than toilet paper

We’ve all seen the guides on what pantry essentials to stock up on: dried beans, oatmeal, dried pasta, rice, tomato sauce, flour. But in a multicultural city like Toronto, you can expect some diversity.So I put the call out on Twitter, asking people what they keep in their pantry that reflected their heritage and cultural upbringing.Some of the results (I even got a few international home cooks chiming in): Cassava flour and starch for a Brazilian pantry; canned sprat and buckwheat for a Russian kitchen; achiote and dulce de leche for an Ecuadorian; ghee and spices for chai on a Punjabi shelf; frozen shredded coconut and red lentils for Tamil families; canned mackerel and rice for a Jamaican; polenta and cannellini beans for Italians; olives and yogurt for Cypriot cuisine; and the holy trio of doenjang, gochujang and soy sauce for a Korean kitchen.For me, I grew up in a Chinese household, so things my mother always kept in her kitchen were bottles of oyster sauce, soy sauce (two kinds: light and dark), rock sugar (less sweet than granulated), 20 lb. bags of jasmine rice, lots of ginger root and green onion, spices like star anise and white pepper, and despite its reputation as a doomsday foodstuff in the West, Spam is an everyday ingredient for us. I also have Japanese and Korean ingredients such as Glico curry cubes, kimchi, furikake (rice seasoning) and miso paste, ingredients that last months and add instant flavour for everything. I asked a few of those who responded to expand.Toks Weah, 27, academic administrator at the University of TorontoWeah would usually get Nigerian pantry staples from her mother, Esther, who lives in Oshawa. They include packs of frozen, grated isu ewura (water yam) and obe ata (a sauce made from simmering tomatoes and red peppers) that’s the basis for a lot of Yoruba cooking. Weah’s favourite way to eat isu ewura is in a dish called ikokore, a type of pottage or thick stew that’s rich in meat and seafood. But now, the 27-year-old who is isolating with her husband, says she’s all out.“My mom lives in Oshawa and has a deep freezer, so she does all the prep work and I’ve been able to get that stuff year round,” she says, adding that her mom would head to the West African grocers in Weston to stock up on boxes of water yam. “But my mother is a health care worker so I can’t be with her and we’re out of it. I miss it so much.”Other Nigerian staples include garri, a cassava flour that’s often eaten as cereal when soaked in cold water and sweetened with sugar or honey. Seasoning cubes from brands like Maggi are also used as an easy way to give everything from meats to sauces to vegetables a quick umami kick.For ingredients that are easier to find at the larger markets, Weah makes a Nigerian style omelette, which is flavoured with onions, tomatoes and scotch bonnet peppers and eaten with fried plantains, yam or bread.Maryam Munaf, 37, founder of Healthy GenieMunaf is getting ready for Ramadan with her husband and two young kids, aged six and two, and among the dried fruits and nuts she always keeps, dates in particular are a pantry-must have to break the daily fast. They are eaten on their own, stuffed with spiced pistachios, almonds and walnuts, or blended with tahini to make a spread. There’s also lots of olive oil, chickpeas and lentils, things that she says the pantry is usually stocked with throughout the year.“For iftar, regardless of weather, even when I grew up in Abu Dhabi, for some reason we always had soup as a starter,” she says. “I make lentil soup, which I call the queen of all soups. It’s so good.”She also cooks green lentils with onions and spiced with cumin, served with a side of yogurt and cucumber salad. For dessert Munaf makes a riff on qatayef, often served during Ramadan. It’s a sweet, deep fried flour and semolina pancake (or dumpling, depending on the region) with a cheese or a cinnamon-walnut filling. As a nutritionist and founder of a healthy Middle Eastern prepared food company called Healthy Genie, Munaf bakes hers instead and drizzles maple syrup on top. “Because we’re in Canada,” she says.Fatimah Jackson-Best, 37, public health researcher and consultant“I spent five-and-a-half years in Barbados where my dad is from and my mom is American so I have a strong Bajan, Caribbean and American influence on my cooking,” she says. The most important Bajan ingredient in her pantry is the hot sauce.“It’s one of the few Caribbean hot sauces that aren’t too hot and what I like is that most of them will have turmeric, so it gives any bland food a bit of heat and flavour.”She also has cans of coconut milk from her preferred brand, Grace. “I put it in curries to make it more creamy, you can also put it in oatmeal, you can add it to almost everything to give it a full-bodied taste and you don’t have to worry about additives.”There’s also lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, peas, tea, condensed milk, different varieties of rice (“I feel like every good immigrant child will

A peek inside COVID-19 pantries across the GTA shows much more than toilet paper

We’ve all seen the guides on what pantry essentials to stock up on: dried beans, oatmeal, dried pasta, rice, tomato sauce, flour. But in a multicultural city like Toronto, you can expect some diversity.

So I put the call out on Twitter, asking people what they keep in their pantry that reflected their heritage and cultural upbringing.

Some of the results (I even got a few international home cooks chiming in): Cassava flour and starch for a Brazilian pantry; canned sprat and buckwheat for a Russian kitchen; achiote and dulce de leche for an Ecuadorian; ghee and spices for chai on a Punjabi shelf; frozen shredded coconut and red lentils for Tamil families; canned mackerel and rice for a Jamaican; polenta and cannellini beans for Italians; olives and yogurt for Cypriot cuisine; and the holy trio of doenjang, gochujang and soy sauce for a Korean kitchen.

For me, I grew up in a Chinese household, so things my mother always kept in her kitchen were bottles of oyster sauce, soy sauce (two kinds: light and dark), rock sugar (less sweet than granulated), 20 lb. bags of jasmine rice, lots of ginger root and green onion, spices like star anise and white pepper, and despite its reputation as a doomsday foodstuff in the West, Spam is an everyday ingredient for us. I also have Japanese and Korean ingredients such as Glico curry cubes, kimchi, furikake (rice seasoning) and miso paste, ingredients that last months and add instant flavour for everything. I asked a few of those who responded to expand.

Toks Weah, 27, academic administrator at the University of Toronto

Weah would usually get Nigerian pantry staples from her mother, Esther, who lives in Oshawa. They include packs of frozen, grated isu ewura (water yam) and obe ata (a sauce made from simmering tomatoes and red peppers) that’s the basis for a lot of Yoruba cooking. Weah’s favourite way to eat isu ewura is in a dish called ikokore, a type of pottage or thick stew that’s rich in meat and seafood. But now, the 27-year-old who is isolating with her husband, says she’s all out.

“My mom lives in Oshawa and has a deep freezer, so she does all the prep work and I’ve been able to get that stuff year round,” she says, adding that her mom would head to the West African grocers in Weston to stock up on boxes of water yam. “But my mother is a health care worker so I can’t be with her and we’re out of it. I miss it so much.”

Other Nigerian staples include garri, a cassava flour that’s often eaten as cereal when soaked in cold water and sweetened with sugar or honey. Seasoning cubes from brands like Maggi are also used as an easy way to give everything from meats to sauces to vegetables a quick umami kick.

For ingredients that are easier to find at the larger markets, Weah makes a Nigerian style omelette, which is flavoured with onions, tomatoes and scotch bonnet peppers and eaten with fried plantains, yam or bread.

Maryam Munaf, 37, founder of Healthy Genie

Munaf is getting ready for Ramadan with her husband and two young kids, aged six and two, and among the dried fruits and nuts she always keeps, dates in particular are a pantry-must have to break the daily fast. They are eaten on their own, stuffed with spiced pistachios, almonds and walnuts, or blended with tahini to make a spread. There’s also lots of olive oil, chickpeas and lentils, things that she says the pantry is usually stocked with throughout the year.

“For iftar, regardless of weather, even when I grew up in Abu Dhabi, for some reason we always had soup as a starter,” she says. “I make lentil soup, which I call the queen of all soups. It’s so good.”

She also cooks green lentils with onions and spiced with cumin, served with a side of yogurt and cucumber salad. For dessert Munaf makes a riff on qatayef, often served during Ramadan. It’s a sweet, deep fried flour and semolina pancake (or dumpling, depending on the region) with a cheese or a cinnamon-walnut filling. As a nutritionist and founder of a healthy Middle Eastern prepared food company called Healthy Genie, Munaf bakes hers instead and drizzles maple syrup on top. “Because we’re in Canada,” she says.

Fatimah Jackson-Best, 37, public health researcher and consultant

“I spent five-and-a-half years in Barbados where my dad is from and my mom is American so I have a strong Bajan, Caribbean and American influence on my cooking,” she says. The most important Bajan ingredient in her pantry is the hot sauce.

“It’s one of the few Caribbean hot sauces that aren’t too hot and what I like is that most of them will have turmeric, so it gives any bland food a bit of heat and flavour.”

She also has cans of coconut milk from her preferred brand, Grace. “I put it in curries to make it more creamy, you can also put it in oatmeal, you can add it to almost everything to give it a full-bodied taste and you don’t have to worry about additives.”

There’s also lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, peas, tea, condensed milk, different varieties of rice (“I feel like every good immigrant child will have rice in their pantry”) and tamarind sauce from Alima’s Roti and Pastry in Brampton. Another important staple is also salt fish (dried cod) used to make fish cakes (They have different names depending on the island. In Trinidad they’re called accra). Flour is used for dumplings in soups as well as sweet fritters for breakfast (she uses spelt flour for a gluten-free version).

For an all-purpose flavour boost, Jackson-Best makes what’s called green seasoning: a mixture of shallots, black and white pepper, onions, thyme, marjoram, parsley, garlic, sweet and hot peppers, cloves, vinegar and salt. Every household will have their own variation of it, but she says it’s useful to keep on hand as a marinade for meat and fish and even as a soup base.

Karon Liu is a Toronto-based culture reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @karonliu

Source : Toronto Star More   

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