Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 16, 2012 - 3:10 pm

Bye-bye, Maud

Canada says Norway may bring Roald Amundsen's ship back home from Nunavut

JANE GEORGE
Generations have grown up in Cambridge Bay accustomed to seeing the wreck of the Maud outside their community. Now the ship once sailed by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen will be heading back to Norway. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Generations have grown up in Cambridge Bay accustomed to seeing the wreck of the Maud outside their community. Now the ship once sailed by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen will be heading back to Norway. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

It’s official: Norway can bring home the Maud, although some people in Cambridge Bay may miss the familar sight of the half-sunken wreck outside their community.

Canada’s cultural property export review board, which met March 15 in Ottawa, has directed the Border Services Agency to issue an export permit to the Norwegian group that’s eager to bring the ship once sailed by polar explorer Roald Amundsen back to Norway.

The board said in its March 16 decision that “the Maud is of outstanding significance to Canada, but that its loss would not significantly diminish the national heritage.”

A statement from Canadian Heritage said “the board was sensitive to both sides of the story of the Maud and appreciated all the relevant information presented by the expert examiner and the appellant, the Norwegian Embassy. The Board recognized the shared heritage of Canada, Norway and the world, and after careful consideration of the criteria under the Act, determined that an export permit will be granted for the Maud.”

“That is great news for us and we can now go ahead making plans and prepare ourself for the great challenge to finally bring Maud home,” said Jan Wanggaard, manager of the Maud Returns Home project. “It’s a great responsibility we now take on and we will work hard to make this project something everyone can be proud of at the end of the day both in Canada and Norway.”

Last December,  the Canadian Border Services Agency turned down a request for a federal export permit for the Maud, once sailed by Norway’s Amundsen, the first European adventurer to travel the Northwest Passage in 1906 and the first person to reach the South Pole December 1911.

The Norwegian investors wants to raise the Maud with balloons, drag the hulk over to a barge and then tow it from Nunavut back to Norway — a 7,000-kilometre journey.

There, the Maud would be exhibited at a futuristic museum in Asker, a suburb of Oslo — where anything to do with Amundsen remains a huge draw.

“First we wish to thank everyone who have supported us in the process of reaching this goal to be issued an export permit for Maud. And we also appreciate very much the review board´s decition to support and trust our plans for a repatriation of Amundsen’s famous polar ship,” Wanggaard said.

Many in Cambridge Bay, where the ship sunk 80 years ago, will also applaud the review board’s decision.

“The Norwegians should take it back, it means more to their country and their people could admire it and think of what it all went through,” said a commenter from Cambridge Bay on a recent Facebook discussion devoted to the Maud.

“What isn’t ours should be given back,” another said.

A Cambridge Bay woman also started a Facebook site this week called “Bring the Maud home to Norway.”

The Maud ended up in Canada after Amundsen had sailed ship on an unsuccessful attempt to sail through the Northeast Passage and then left it the Western Arctic.

Last summer, a group of Cambridge Bay residents lobbied to keep the Maud — better known to them as the Baymaud, the name given to it by the Hudson’s Bay Co. — in Nunavut.

They formed a committee called “Keep the Baymaud in Canada” last year and circulated a petition that says the Baymaud, which sank near Cambridge Bay in 1930, is “an archaeological site that needs to be protected as she is where she is.”

The petition noted 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 read.

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