Sir John Franklin’s
search for the Northwest Passage in 1845 – and its tragic end – has been an enduring mystery in Canada and around the world. Trapped in the Arctic ice, the entire crew of both HMS Erebus and HMS Terror died in the march southward, leaving only fragments and clues about their epic struggle and the possible location of both ships.


In 2014, the flagship HMS Erebus was discovered close to the community of Gjoa Haven, Nunuvit, by Parks Canada and its partners. And on July 22, 2015, Canada Post unveiled three stamps at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: a Se-Tenant (2-set) Stamp commemorating the final moments of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, lost in the frozen Arctic; and an International Stamp commemorating the 2014 re-discovery of HMS Erebus.


Subplot Design Inc. was commissioned to celebrate both of these monumental events in Canadian history with full sets of commemorative sets including the stamps, Official First Day Covers (envelopes), Souvenir Sheets, Booklets, and Cancellation Marks.


All sets go on sale today HERE


“This great discovery inspired us to find new and exciting ways to bring the Erebus story and discovery to life”, says Roy White, Founder and Creative Director at Subplot Design Inc. “Whether is was creating a high-relief, sculptured emboss to make the Erebus seem to arise from the ice and snow, or using fluorescent inks to enhance the sonar images, we knew collectors and history buffs would be intrigued”.


LOST: the Erebus Se-Tenant (2-stamp) Collection

Lost in the icy arctic nearly 170 years ago, the Erebus ship and route appears to rise out of the snow and ice itself. A white background and high relief embossing were used so that the stamps appear to have been carved from ice. The first stamp shows HMS 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 pane of 16 stamps and OFDC builds upon the ship images by revealing the arctic terrain and cold landscape that the ships were lost in. The red wax seal and red dots in the ship’s route represent every life lost during this expedition.


Items: Stamps, 16-stamp Pane, Official First Day Cover (envelope), Booklet, Cancellation Marks.

Design: Subplot Design Inc.

Designers: Liz Wurzinger, Roy White

Canada Post Design Manager: Susan Gilson

Illustrator (3D ship & map): Mike Little

Illustrator (textured map): Liz Wurzinger

Sculpted Emboss: Patrick Choquet

Printing: Lowe Martin


FOUND: the Erebus International Collection

The international-rate stamp combines Matthew Betts’s illustration of HMS Erebus’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. The OFDC also features several additional sonar views of the ship, as well as pays tribute to two of the ships involved in the discovery: The Kinglett and Investigator.


Items: Stamp, Souvenir Sheet, Official First Day Cover (envelope), Booklet, 12-souvenir Sheet Uncut Press Sheet, Cancellation Mark

Design: Subplot Design Inc.

Designers: Max Young, Roy White

Canada Post Design Manager: Susan Gilson

Illustrator or Erebus deck plan: Matthew Betts

Sonar Images: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Photo of ships Investigator and Kinglett: Parks Canada

Photo of Iron Fitting: Government of Nunavut

Cairn Note: national Maritime Museum, London

Cairn Illustration: New York Public Library

Printing: Lowe Martin



Complete Collection Photos  VIEW HERE


Canada Post Press Release  VIEW HERE