Canadians closing in on lost wreckage of HMS Terror
By Randy Boswell - Vancouver Sun
It's a genuine treasure of American history, with a price tag to match: a rare, 195-year-old printing of the original sheet music for the Star-Spangled Banner is expected to sell for up to $300,000 at an auction next week in New York.
But as U.S. history buffs lined up for a look at the patriotic relic this week during Christie's pre-sale exhibition, Canadian archeologists were planning their next Arctic Ocean search for one of the very War of 1812 ships — the last in existence — responsible for the "rockets' red glare" and "bombs bursting in air" that helped inspire American poet Francis Scott Key to write his country's national anthem after witnessing the bombing of Baltimore in September 1814.
The surprising link between the Star-Spangled Banner and the lost Franklin Expedition vessel HMS Terror — believed to lie off the coast of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic — adds another layer to the rich history of the ship and helps explain Canada's three-year quest to find it, says the Parks Canada archeologist leading the hunt for the fabled shipwreck.
The resting places of the Terror and its consort vessel the HMS Erebus — both lost during British explorer John Franklin's ill-fated voyage of discovery to Northern Canada in the late 1840s — have already been declared a National Historic Site, even though their precise locations remain unknown.
In 2008, the Canadian government announced it was undertaking a three-summer search for the shipwrecks, seen to be instrumental in establishing British — and in turn Canadian — sovereignty in the Arctic by the end of the 19th century.