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 Behind The Scenes  
 Arctic Explorer Stamp Issue From Canada  
 
by Jay Smith
August 12, 2015

In 1845, the British explorer Sir John Franklin, with 128 sailors, entered arctic waters with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Franklin was seeking the hoped-for Northwest Passage above Canada to open a shorter route from Europe to Asia. By the fall of 1846, both ships were trapped in the ice and by 1848 the ships were abandoned. There were no survivors and the exact location of the sunken ships was not known. For many years, British, Scandinavian, and other polar explorers searched for Franklin and his crew; many more people died in the process. It became one of the great polar mysteries.

In September 2014 "Parks Canada and its partners" discovered Franklin's flagship, the HMS Erebus, in 11 meters of water. To commemorate the discovery, on 6 August 2015 Canada issued multiple stamps, souvenir sheets, and a booklet, as well as the usual first day covers, etc.

The polar / arctic / explorers subject matter may be of interest to some collectors of Scandinavian stamps as there are several Scandinavian connections. I don't plan on stocking these particular stamps (there are limits to what I can do), but if the subject interests you, take a look at Canada Post's Franklin web page:

https://www.canadapost.ca/franklin
[Note: I had trouble accessing this page in one newer browser; it was fine in another older browser (the opposite of the usual problem). Best of luck.]

Canada Post's August 2015 "Details" Philatelic Bulletin provides many more details and much better pictures than the web sales page:

https://www.canadapost.ca/assets/pdf/blogs/collecting/detailsvolxxivno7_en.pdf

Epilogue: Franklin and others who searched for the Northwest Passage actually had the right idea. An ocean passage did exist, it was just blocked by ice. It was not until recently that global warming had melted enough ice that summer passage by large commercial ships became possible. It is expected that, in a few years, year-round passage will be possible on a regular, commercial basis. Arctic Canada is preparing to soon service and profit from this major new shipping route.
 
 

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Updated 13 December 2019

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