When Sir John Franklin disappeared in the Arctic in the 1840s, the British Admiralty launched the largest rescue mission in its history. Among the search vessels was HMS Investigator, which left England in 1850 under the command of Captain Robert McClure. While the ambitious McClure never found Franklin, he and his crew did discover the fabled Northwest Passage.
Like Franklin’s ships, though, Investigator disappeared in the most remote, bleak and unknown place on Earth. For three winters, its 66 souls were trapped in the unforgiving ice of Mercy Bay. They suffered cold, darkness, starvation, scurvy, boredom, depression and madness. When they were rescued in 1853, Investigator was abandoned.
For more than a century and a half, the ship’s fate remained a mystery. Had it been crushed by the ice or swept out to sea? In 2010, Parks Canada sent a team of archaeologists to Mercy Bay to find out. It was a formidable challenge, demanding expertise and patience. There, off the shores of Aulavik National Park, they found Investigator.
Lost Beneath the Ice is a tale of endurance, daring, deceit, courage, and irony. It is a story about a tempestuous crew, their mercurial captain, cynical surgeon and kind-hearted missionary. In the end, McClure found fame but lost his ship, some of his crew and much of his honour. Written with elegance and authority, illustrated with archival imagery and startling underwater photographs of Investigator and its artifacts, this is a sensational story of discovery and intrigue in Canada’s Arctic.
Andrew Cohen is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. Among his books are While Canada Slept, a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, The Unfinished Canadian, and Extraordinary Canadians: Lester B. Pearson. He writes a nationally syndicated column for The Ottawa Citizen and comments regularly on CTV. A professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University, he is founding president of the Historica-Dominion Institute. He has twice received Queen’s Jubilee Medals.