Expedition Diary

Dr. David C. Smith and Dr. Chris Milligan join the Fara Heim team

Dr. Chris Milligan

Dr. David C. Smith

We are pleased to announce Dr. David C. Smith and Dr. Chris Milligan, both of McGill University, have joined as Advisers to Fara Heim. They are experts in the history of the Battle of Hudson Bay. They wrote a very in-depth book on Le Pelican for the Stewart Foundation and recently released a very historical fiction book called “Check Mate!”.

Get their books here:

Buy Check Mate!!!

We are adding an update on the Expeditions over the past year

Wow, we need to share with you a lot more often! We have a lot of expeditions, images, and info to share.

Henry Kelsey saw the Battle of Hudson Bay first-hand and surrendered to D’Iberville

Read the journal notes of Henry Kelsey from 1697 when he watched for 2 weeks as the French-Canadian Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville attacked and captured York Fort. If you haven’t heard of Henry Kelsey he is also a great explorer. He is the first known European to see bison and the prairies of central North America when he walked from York Fort to Saskatchewan.

Kelsey 1697

Opportunity to come on Expedition

August 2015 – Travel down the Nelson River to York Factory with the Fara Heim Expedition to search for the lost warships of the 1697 Battle of Hudson Bay

In September 1697, a naval battle occurred near the south shores of Hudson Bay in Canada. The battle occurred during King William’s War when the French-Canadian Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville engaged an English naval squadron at York Fort. D’Iberville’s warship, Le Pelican, had been separated during the trip through the Hudson Strait and arrived before his other ships. Le Pelican had sailed out to guide what D’Iberville thought was three friendly ships through the treacherous shoals. He then engaged the ships (a Royal Navy frigate and 2 armed Hudson’s Bay Company merchantmen) after he realized they were English.

The Pelican at the wharf copy web size

The French-Canadian D’Iberville, born in Montreal (then Ville-Marie), was Captain of Le Pelican (44 guns, 200 ft, 3 masts). The English squadron consisted of 3 frigates including two armed merchant ships, the Dering and Hudson’s Bay (80 guns total), and the HMS Hampshire (46 guns, 110 ft, 3 masts).

The initial engagement between the 4 ships lasted almost 3 hours. Then D’Iberville and Captain John Fletcher of the Hampshire viciously and repeatedly broadsided each other until the Hampshire sunk with all hands lost. The Hudson’s Bay surrendered and the other ship, the Dering, ran when the Hampshire was sunk. The battle has been so savage that Le Pelican couldn’t pursue the Dering and D’Iberville beached his ship to save his crew. Later the captured HBC merchantman, Hudson’s Bay, was also lost.

Hudson Bay 1697 Painting

On shore D’Iberville marched his men through 6 inches of snow in a heavy snowstorm to capture York Fort. The event was recorded by York Fort’s second-in-command Henry Kelsey in his journal. Henry kept daily notes on the battle, negotiations and eventual surrender to D’Iberville. Kelsey is also known to be the first European to see the prairies and bison when he walked from York Fort to the great plains of Saskatchewan.

D’Iberville was an explorer, trader, privateer, and statesman. He considered himself “French-Canadian” and not “French” thogh he sailed under the French flag and reported his activities to the King of France. He is considered by Canada to be one of its greatest soldiers. D’Iberville’s other explorations include finding the mouth of the Mississippi, founding Baton Rouge, Biloxi, and Mobile, and creating the colony of Louisiana. His brother, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Bienville, went on to found New Orleans. His father was one of the first settlers to what is now Montreal. In Lachine, the west end of modern Montreal, at the head of the rapids, you can visit the family fur storage warehouse from the 17th century.
The Fara Heim expedition has been to York Factory twice. They have searched the area using satellite imagery, interviewed local sources to collect oral history, analyzed the cartography of the past 300 years against current conditions, evaluated isostatic rebound, used a drone for airborne imagery, completed multiple land and sea searches with magnetometers, and traveled the Nelson River by boat. This expedition will continue the search with a complete suite of electronic sensors and the ability to dive. Fara Heim wants to share the beauty of the land, the significance of the history, and the experience of being on an expedition with a select few Adventurers.

For 2 weeks in August 2015 the Fara Heim expedition will live at York Factory and search using advanced sensor systems for evidence of the remains of the vessels lost. The ships have never been found due to a combination of the remoteness of the site and the lack of technology that a private expedition could access. Fara Heim will use an airborne drone to support the aerial search and a robot sailboat (a“Datamaran”) to search the bottom of the Bay. Fara Heim will be conducting dive operations as necessary though Adventurers will only participate in the above surface searching due to the conditions in Hudson Bay. The team has applied to be a Flag expedition of The Explorers Club (TEC) (www.explorers.org). Most of the Fara Heim team are members of TEC. TEC’s famous past members include Sir Edmond Hillary, Neil Armstrong, Thor Heyerdahl, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and Roald Amundsen.

Fara Heim will be taking “Adventurers with Purpose” on the expedition for 1-week periods. The Adventurers will travel from Gillam, Manitoba down the Nelson River by boat on a 1-1.5 day trip depending on Bay weather and tides. The trip to York Factory will include a stop at Seal Island (where Sir Thomas Button wintered in 1612), Port Nelson (abandoned over 100 years ago) and sites of local shipwrecks. Belugas, polar bears, wolves, caribous, eagles, ravens, seals, and potentially narwhal and the northern lights will be seen on the trip. Adventurers will camp under the stars at York Factory in the polar bear enclosure (to keep the bears out), walk on Marsh Point with the polar bears, visit the remaining buildings of York Factory, and be part of the land and sea search. Historical and archaeological experts will be part of the expedition to provide Adventurers with insights and education into the significance, history, and events at York Factory. The return trip will be done in one day depending on weather and tides.

The cost for 7 days (Sun-Sat inclusive of food, wine/beer, accommodation, and transport to/from Gillam, Manitoba) is $4500USD. There are only 6 spots available per week due to transportation constraints. For additional cost other transport options can be arranged including directly flying to York Factory via floatplane. For further information please call or email David Collette at 262-960-2959 or david@faraheim.com. For more information on Fara Heim please go to www.faraheim.com.


Fara Heim presenting at Explorers Club in New York City February 18

If you are in NYC stop and visit.

ec expo 2015

Automarine Systems partners with Fara Heim to use autonomous “Datamaran” to search for sunken ship

Fara Heim is working with Automarine Systems to evaluate the use of their Datamaran to search for the wreck of HMS Hampshire in Hudson Bay. The Hampshire was lost in 1697.

The Datamaran can house a sensor package and be communicated to from the shores of Hudson Bay. Stay tuned for more info.

Canada’s History Magazine

Check out Canada’s History website.

They did a quick review of our drone video at Hudson Bay. Yes, they commented on my unstable drone piloting. It’s a good view of the Marsh Point area at low tide on a perfectly sunny day with absolutely no clouds, no wind, and even better no waves.

Explorers Club Canada Newsletter

Here is a copy of the Explorers Club Canada newsletter.Far Afield Winter 2014

Fara Heim joins and attends the Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada

In May the Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada (AASSC) was held at Brock University. AASSC is an interdisciplinary group focusing on humanities and social studies related to Scandinavia. David attended the opening reception sponsored by Jan-Terje Storaas of the Norwegian Embassy. Another event was sponsored by Britt Bengtsson of the Swedish Embassy. Image our surprise to realize that Iceland is not considered a Scandinavian country and the Icelandic Embassy neither attended or sponsored any events.

While the government of Iceland was not involved topics included interpreting Icelandic Sagas about the Norse interactions meeting the American Natives (meaning Leif and Thorfinn who were Icelandic), Greenland settlements by the Norse (really begin the Icelanders) and Icelandic crime fiction and how it is affected by Norse manuscripts.

A highlight of the event was sitting down with Birgitta Wallace who had worked on the Norse archaeological site in Newfoundland and discussing “were we should look”. She believes that the Newfoundland site was, while built like a long-term settlement, only a stop along a route further south of the tip of Newfoundland. She has her thoughts on where that settlement is but it will be a difficult search. She did tell us to take a look in Ungava Bay.

One key thing we learned is that Norse artifacts aren’t being found by people looking for Norse artifacts but by people researching aboriginal historical sites. The top layers of a dig usually have recent to 1,000 year old artifacts. Then, if they have found Norse artifacts, they find things sandwiched between new and old aboriginal layers. I guess a good camp site is a good camp site and travelers reuse the sites! Birgitta’s opinion was that there are artifacts to be found but they won’t be attached to any permanent settlements.

We also discussed using satellite imagery and she suggested Lidar would also be a useful tool.

Spring 2014 Update

Hello fellow Expeditioners. I hope Spring 2014 finds you well and the Winter was not too harsh. It seemed like a very long winter this year.

The Fara Heim team took a several month break from field work after the Hudson Bay trip. Executing expeditions takes a lot of preparation and planning!!

For the next phase of our fieldwork we are working to create a larger team for the return to Hudson Bay and the Arctic. The search for the warships of 1697 is a mission that has to be completed and we are very close to acquiring the transportation resources we need to search for further signs of Norse exploration in Northern Canada.

In March, David and Mackenzie became members of The Explorers Club. They attended the annual meetings and dinner held in New York City. The meetings were held at the Explorers Club headquarters and the dinner was held at the Waldorf Astoria. Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors/SpaceX were given awards. Buzz Aldrin was one of the dinner hosts and the attendees included the Prince of Bhutan, Richard Garriott de Cayeux (paid to fly to space out of his own pocket), and a host of other explorers. It was quite a motivational evening with the dinner and appetizers including many exotic foods.

The annual meetings were also very interesting as David and Mackenzie attended the New Members event. Several Norwegians were becoming new members for their archaeological research in Greenland. We discussed at length what they saw on the south and east sides of Greendland. Mackenzie met people who spent years living and working in Antarctica. David connected with Jim Enterline again and discussed the HF data and voice communication network available via satellites.

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