Gjoa Haven mystery box delivers only newspaper scraps

“No items related to either Amundsen or to Franklin were found”



A wooden box thought to hold records from either Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845 journey to find the Northwest Passage or Roald Amundsen’s 1905 expedition was found to contain little more than newspaper scraps.

The box — recovered earlier this month from beneath a cairn near Gjoa Haven — was opened Sept. 24 in Ottawa by the Canadian Conservation Institute and representatives of the Nunavut government.

“The remains of a cardboard box lined the bottom and sides of the interior of the wood box. Pieces of newspaper and what appeared to be tallow were discovered beneath the sand and rocks that filled the box,” a Sept. 28 statement read. “No items related to either Amundsen or to Franklin were found.”

The Nunavut government launched the excavation after an Inuit family relayed oral history suggesting that the cairn contained records from Franklin’s expedition, which ended in the deaths of everyone aboard the HMS Terror after disappearing in the Arctic Ocean.

Despite the lack of evidence linking the box to either explorer, the government and the institute will still analyze the contents in the coming days.

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