Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 15, 2011 - 9:57 am

CamBay group circulates petition to keep Maud in Nunavut

"She is a Canadian archaeological site that has been here since 1930"

JANE GEORGE
A group opposed to a Norwegian company's plans to bring the Baymaud to Norway from its resting place in Cambridge Bay is now circulating a petition asking the federal government to keep the sunken hulk in Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)
A group opposed to a Norwegian company's plans to bring the Baymaud to Norway from its resting place in Cambridge Bay is now circulating a petition asking the federal government to keep the sunken hulk in Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)

A group of Cambridge Bay residents, who have rallied to keep the Maud in their community, are circulating a petition that asks the federal government to keep the sunken hulk, once sailed by the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, in Nunavut.

Wealthy Norwegian investors want to bring the Maud back to Norway and then build a futuristic museum around it.

The Cambridge Bay group’s members, who started meeting last month, want to keep Amundsen’s Maud — also called the Baymaud — in Cambridge Bay.

Their petition, “Keep the Baymaud in Canada,” posted online asks “the Government of Canada to keep the Baymaud in Canada by denying all requests for export permits.”

“I really think this is an important cause, and I’d like to encourage you to add your signature.  It’s free and takes just a few seconds of your time.  No need to register or give a password or anything time consuming.  All you need to do is provide your name and email address and then click sign,” said Baymaud spokesperson Vicki Aitaok.

People may also sign the “Keep the Baymaud in Canada” petition in person in Cambridge Bay at the Arctic Closet gift shop or on the group’s Facebook site, which now has 297 members.

The petition says that the Baymaud, which sunk near today’s community of Cambridge Bay in 1930, is “an archaeological site that needs to be protected as she is where she is.” 

The petition notes that the Baymaud also served as a supply vessel and a floating warehouse, then later as a wireless radio station, broadcasting from the Arctic to what is now the CBC. 

“While we don’t deny the importance of the Maud to Norway, one also cannot deny the fact that she is a Canadian archaeological site that has been here since 1930 and should not be removed,” the petition reads. 

Amundsen, who in 1906 was the first European explorer to sail through the Northwest Passage, left Norway in 1918 with the Maud, planning to drift with the ice across the Northeast Passage westwards and over the North Pole.

But his crew never got into the westward current, although the expedition did produce some excellent scientific results — mostly after Amundsen had given up and left the ship.

Creditors sold the Maud in 1925 to the Hudson Bay Co., who renamed it the Baymaud.

The ship, which ended its days as a floating warehouse and radio station, sank at its mooring in 1930.

In 1990, the Hudson’s Bay Co. then transferred the ship’s ownership to Asker for $1.

This past June, the municipal council of Asker decided by unanimous resolution to transfer the ownership of the Maud from the Asker Kommune to Tandberg Eiendom and its project group “Maud Returns Home.”

But without an export license, the [Bay]Maud can’t be bought out of Canada.

“Ownership to this famous piece of physical history that has suffered under severe tearing by the ice over the years calls for action and we are now putting all energy and focus on the process to come,” the project’s website says.

Tandberg plans to the evaluate sunken hull as soon as the ice has cleared and to discuss the project details and plans with people in Cambridge Bay “to hopefully also have their support for saving the Maud for future generations, rather than just let it go,” says a recent update on the project’s website.

“Our project group is concerned that there will be a good communication between us and the local society that has had the wreck of Maud as their neighbour through all these years. This is also a part of the story to be remembered when the story of this expedition ship will be presented in a future Maudmuseum,” writes project manager Jan Wanggard, who plans to come to Cambridge Bay next month to survey the wreck.

“We also wish to communicate our project plans to the people of Cambridge Bay, and we do hope to gain respect for our wish to save the remains of this famous ship for the future to come.”

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