New silver coin and three stamps honour Franklin Expedition

A $20 Fine silver coin and three postage stamps honouring the famed Franklin Expedition were released this morning in a special ceremony at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.

“The Franklin Expedition is a very important event in Canadian history which laid the foundations of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty nearly two centuries ago,” said Peter MacKay, minister of justice and attorney general. “The Royal Canadian Mint’s new commemorative silver coin is a poignant and beautifully crafted reminder of the vision, bravery and sacrifice needed to explore Canada’s Arctic and to protect the true north, strong and free, as a cherished part of our nation.”

Canada Post unveiled three stamps commemorating Sir John Franklin’s 1845 search for the Northwest Passage and the discovery of his vanished flagship − HMS Erebus − in September 2014. The stamps, two Permanent™ and one at the international rate, will be issued on Aug. 6.

“The mystery of Franklin’s expedition has long captured the imaginations of Canadians. It’s a story of leadership, brave exploration, our history, our culture and our iconic North, all wrapped together,” MacKay said. “These stamps reflect Canadians’ pride in technology, while embracing the traditional stories and knowledge that helped make the discovery of Erebus possible and highlight a cherished moment in the history of our nation.”

“Canadians are familiar with stories of daring exploits in Canada’s Arctic but few stand out as sharply as the Franklin Expedition and the loss of its crew and ships during their ill-fated search for the Northwest Passage,” said Sandra Hanington, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “The Mint is proud to honour the brave men who took part in the historic Franklin Expedition on a finely crafted silver coin which will preserve their memory as intrepid explorers of Canada’s North.”

reverseDesigned by noted Canadian maritime artist John Horton, the second coin in the $20 Fine Silver “Lost Ships in Canadian Waters” series pays tribute to the Franklin Expedition with an elegant illustration of HMS Terror and HMS Erebus navigating the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. The meticulously coloured 99.99% pure silver coin shows HMS Erebus in the foreground, whose 2014 discovery by Canada’s Victoria Strait Expedition is one of the century’s greatest achievements in maritime archeology.

The words “H.M.S. Erebus” and “H.M.S. Terror” are also engraved along the coin’s edge.  Retailing for $109.95, it is limited to a world-wide mintage of 7,000.sideview

The coin can be ordered as of today by contacting the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the U.S., or online at It will also be available at the Royal Canadian Mint’s boutiques in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as through the Mint’s global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets.

A se-tenant issue – or side-by-side pair – the two Permanent stamps were designed by Roy White of Vancouver-based Subplot Design Inc., with illustrations from Halifax-based Mike Little, who worked on the Titanic collection issued in 2012 and other stamps. A white background and high relief embossing were used so that the stamps appear to have been carved from ice.

The first stamp shows Erebus with HMS Terror in the background. The second features a map of the Arctic region that Franklin explored and uses Inuktut to mark places – reflecting the Inuit oral history that guided many searches, including the 2014 discovery.

The international-rate stamp, also designed by White, combines Matthew Betts’s illustration of HMSErebus’s deck plan with a modern sonar image from the wreck, courtesy of the Canadian Hydrographic Service of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The accompanying souvenir sheet features an underwater photo provided by Parks Canada of the ship’s bell from the Erebus, as discovered by divers. A special phosphorescent ink on the stamp enhances the sonar image, while a metallic ink lends a sheen to the bell.




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