Wreck of the HMS Breadalbane National Historic Site of Canada
Wreck of the HMS Breadalbane
L'épave du HMS Breadalbane
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Wreck of the HMS Breadalbane National Historic Site of Canada is located off Beechey Island, Nunavut well above the Arctic Circle and is the most northerly known shipwreck. The site is comprised of the wreckage of the HMS Breadalbane, a 19th-century, 500-ton sailing ship, including the hull, fragments of the vessel and the debris field caused by the sinking of the ship. The shipwreck is also a component of Beechey Island Sites National Historic Site of Canada. The designation refers to the shipwreck itself and the debris field that surrounds it.
Wreck of the HMS Breadalbane was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1983 because:
- the ship was involved in the search for Captain John Franklin’s lost expedition.
The HMS Breadalbane was built in 1843 in a shipyard on the Clyde River in Scotland. It spent the first few years of its existence as a merchant vessel, travelling as far as Calcutta. After the disappearance of Sir John Franklin’s expedition, which was searching for the Northwest Passage, the HMS Breadalbane was pressed into service by the British Admiralty to supply the vessels which were exploring the Arctic waters in search of Franklin and his crew. It left the Thames River in 1853, accompanying the HMS Phoenix, and arrived at the rallying point for the search parties at Beechey Island later that year. However, the Arctic weather did not co-operate and the HMS Breadalbane soon found itself surrounded by slow-moving yet implacable pack ice. The ship was quickly emptied of as many supplies and personal effects as possible. On the night of August 20-21, the ice finally broke through the hull, sinking the HMS Breadalbane to the floor of Barrow Strait.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, July 2007.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location well above the Arctic Circle within Beechey Island Sites National Historic Site of Canada in Nunavut;
- the underwater archaeological remains of the ship, including the hull, fragments of the vessel and the surrounding debris field;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains associated with the wreck, which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent, including all remains of a navigational or personal nature.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1853/01/01 to 1853/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Undetermined (archaeological site)
- Underwater Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection