Expedition Diary

Team will return to Hudson Bay this summer

We are returning to Hudson Bay in August to spend 2 weeks at York Factory.  Last summer on our expedition to the Bay we realized that the story of the Battle of Hudson Bay and Pierre D’Iberville needs to be told.

Last year our goal on the Bay was to evaluate isostatic rebound and how, using old maps from the lat 1600s, the topography had changed.  We found significant changes to height and landscape.  Using old Hudson Bay Company and Royal Navy maps we have a very tight search area for where The Pelican (D’Iberville’s ship) was most likely grounded and also have a small (but still lots of square miles) area for where the Hampshire should be.

Using ground penetrating radar and a magnetic anomaly detection gear on a vehicle (hovercraft, boat) we can use technology to find locations.  Our goal is data collection only so that a follow-on expedition by the archaeologists of Province of Manitoba and Government of Canada can recover these important artifacts.  The output of this expedition will be a lesson plan for students use that includes a video that uses the expedition to tell the story of the French/English struggle for control of North America.  History will come alive for students as they come along on the expedition while learning about the Battle of Hudson Bay, Pierre D’Iberville, York Factory and life in 1697.  The kit will include a teacher’s educational outline, video and learning objectives that meet the needs of Canadian and American students when they are learning about the early history of North America (Canadian History in Canada, Pre-Colonial in U.S.)

The Fara Heim expedition boat travels to Manitoba

Ed Bergles and the Fara Heim expedition boat have repositioned from their home port of Racine, Wisconsin to Lake Winnipeg.  Traveling through Minneapolis, Minnesota over to Fargo, North Dakota and heading straight north the boat followed the Red River for 4 hours.  If the Kensington rune stone is to be believed then the Fara Heim team drove over areas that Norsemen crossed over 600 years ago.

Expedition boat for Lake Winnipeg arriving April 28th

The boat is arriving this weekend.

Hudson Bay 2013 Expedition

We have now decided to return to Hudson Bay in August to search for the ships sunk during the “Battle of Hudson Bay”.  This return to the Bay will allow the team to execute ground and sea search techniques in preparation for the 2014 Arctic trip.  We will set up our basecamp at York Factory on the Hayes River in northern Manitoba.

While we were preparing for our expedition down the Nelson River last year we learned of one of the most signficant battles in Canadian history and the largest naval battle in the North American Arctic.  It occurred in 1697 between one French warship and 3 British ships.  The British ships included a “ship of the line” and two merchant vessels.  Both the French and British warships were around 200 feet long.  Pierre D’Iberville was the French Captain who sunk the British warship, captured another and then ran his ship into the shallows to save his crew.  He then marched on York Factory and captured it.

It is an incredible story and the Fara Heim looks forward to reaching back the 300 years to Pierre’s maritime exploits on our way to the Norse exploration a millenium ago.

For more information take a look at wikipedia:




A short video of what the Nelson terrain looks like just before the river meets Hudson Bay

We are searching for the point the 8 mile trail meets the Nelson River.  The water flows out of the muskeg and the 80+ foot cliffs.  The water flowing out of the muskeg was really nice but it is eroding the bank.








Click here for Video: 8 Mile trail at the Nelson River

Here is a polar bear track.  We had seen a mother and cub the day before.  We camped about a mile upstream from this spot and awoke to tracks from a herd of caribou and a pack of wolves in front of our tent.  We didn’t hear a thing during the night.

Polar bear paw print

This is the old map of the area we were using.

8 mile trail from York Factory to Nelson River

Short video of Fara Heim 2012





Here’s a short teaser clip of the video from our 2012 Summer expedition.


Click Here for the VIDEO: FARA HEIM 2012

Testing metal detection processes

If the Norse were in the Arctic they probably left behind metal artifacts.  One hypothesis we have is that a rapid method to help validate a search area will be the presence of metal as metal is not normally found lying around the Arctic.  Prior to going to Hudson Bay we bought a standard metal detector to test how accurate and fast metal detection is.

We bought a White IDX Pro metal detector and went to a local river where there are small islands that are mostly rock.  Using the metal detector we could very easily walk over the surface and quickly identify areas where there were metal. The first thing we found was a garden hose spray gun.  It was about 6″ (15 cm) below the surface in the gravel and sand of the river bed.  We could search about 300 square feet (30 square meters) in two minutes but then it would take 5 to 10 minutes to dig and pinpoint the item generating the signal.

This simple metal detector also works underwater.  We had a relative that lost his wedding band 14 years ago in a lake.  It took us about 2.5 hours of searching with the majority of time time spent on sifting the sand and silt for the artifact generating the signal.  The IDX Pro very clearly told us when we would find a penny, a nickel, a quarter, a pull tab from a can and a gold ring.

Overall, with several handheld detectors we will very quickly be able to look for metal.

We also took a pin detector with us to Hudson Bay.  You can see it in the pictures.  It is the yellow “stick” Mackenzie is carrying.  It also worked but overall metal detecting is a slow process with a pin detector.


The Lost Discovery, Frederick J. Pohl

I was doing research at the Massachusetts Historical Society recently as I was intrigued with the Leif statue on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and the tower built on the “site” of Leif’s house at “Norumbega”.  What I found is that there was a bit of a “Viking mania” on the East Coast in the 1800s and a lot was written.  I have started reading all this content as while I have no idea whether the material is true or total fantasy it makes for interesting reading.

My research has confirmed my view that validated archaeological proof is required if we are to not be put into the “quack” bucket.  Right now it seems that nobody has found anything anywhere other than Newfoundland that all agree is valid Norse artifacts or signs of activity.

While reading I came across the works of Frederick J. Pohl including “The Lost Discovery”, “The Vikings on Cape Cod”, “Atlantic Crossing before Columbus”, “The Viking Explorers” and “The Viking Settlements in North America”.  He REALLY seemed to like Vikings.  “The Lost Discovery” incorporates the same story told in “The Last Kings of Norse America” and outlines the trip down Hudson Bay into the middle of the continent, found mooring holes and searched for Vinland.  He is a great story teller.  He is not the science fiction author but was a retired school teacher.

Even Birgitta Wallace, on Sept 18-19 1964, did field research on Pohl’s theories.  Her findings are the mooring holes and other suspected artifacts were nothing but blasting holes and remnants from post-Columbian settlers.

Then I came across a Bostonian, Eben Horsford, that also REALLY liked Vikings.  He paid for the Leif statue on Commonwealth and seems to have influenced Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write his poem about Vikings, “The Skeleton in the Armor”.

If you research using Google either Pohl or Horsford you will find a lot of content, reviews and additional information.

I am trying to get down to the Newport Tower to see what it look likes as it is another well-known artifact from the past that is argued to be Norse.

Fara Heim Foundation presentation at the Racine Yacht Club, April 27th at 5pm

Please join David and Johann at the Racine Yacht Club, 1 Barker St, Racine, Wisconsin at 5pm for a 1.5 hour multimedia update to last year’s activities and what’s coming up this and next year:

1. A briefing on the 2012 expedition down the Nelson River to Hudson Bay and York Factory.

The team investigated isostatic rebound and evaluated what changes to the terrain have occurred since York Factory was started over 350 years ago. Polar bears, belugas, York Factory, Thomas Button, Henry Hudson

2. An update on the 2013 and 2014 expedition activities.

While at York Factory the team became aware of a 1697 naval battle between French and British warships. The team is returning to York Factory this fall to test their ground and sea search techniques to find new land and sea historical artifacts. The “Battle of Hudson Bay” is a key event in Canadian history and has never before had a team search for the two 200 ft tall ships lost during the naval engagement. The French Captain, Pierre, D’Iberville, is quite a figure having sailed in Hudson Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and everywhere in between.

Fara Heim Racine wall poster042013pdf

The main expedition development continues and we have pushed the main expedition back one year. Glory of the Sea is still in France though may be in the Northwest Passage this summer supporting a two-man rowing team as
they complete a non-stop row. That would preposition Glory for the 2014 Hudson Bay season and allow us to get out to the Arctic late summer.

Update to Fara Heim Foundation

Yes, you read that correctly. We are now the “Fara Heim Foundation” and applying for non-profit status.

We have not been very good at updating the Expedition Diary as we are constantly blogging onto our facebook page (daily). Since the post before this one we have:

1. Spent 2 weeks on Hudson Bay going by sailboat down the Nelson River to the shores of Hudson Bay and over to York Factory.
2. Have use of a 35′ Pearson sailboat that will be used on Lake Winnipeg, Canada to prepare for the 60′ Glory of the Sea.
3. Travelled to the Arctic to talk to Inuit Elders, spent time in researching in Boston (Massachusetts Historical Society)
4. Decided to spend 2 weeks at York Factory in 2013 searching for artifacts on land and sea related to the Battle of Hudson Bay. This search will let us test our land and sea abilities and gel the team for the 2014 Arctic expedition.
5. Started a monthly newsletter due to popular requests for information. The first one will be in May.

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