19 Sep 2016
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Former Blackberry CEO Uncovers Historic Shipwreck

Jim Balsillie’s research foundation finds its second wreck in as many years

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(De Agostini/Getty Images)

Former Research in Motion CEO and Chairman Jim Balsillie’s (MBA 1989) post-Blackberry career has been spent as far from a boardroom as imaginable.

Cofounder of the Arctic Research Foundation, Balsillie has been working with the Canadian government to examine and log one of the most famous wrecks in Canadian history: The 1845 sinking of the HMS Erebus, which set out in search of the Northwest Passage. When the Bulletin spoke to Balsillie last year, he called the pursuit “a nation-building exercise” and saying that “it’s critical to Canada’s history and to our future.”

This week, Balsillie’s exploration uncovered another famous wreck—the HMS Terror, which was abandoned alongside the HMS Erebus and whose fate remained a mystery for 168 years.

That is, until this Sunday. A Guardian exclusive shared the details of the find:

About 24 metres (80ft) down, the wreck is in perfect condition, with metal sheeting that reinforced the hull against sea ice clearly visible amid swaying kelp.

A long, heavy rope line running through a hole in the ship’s deck suggests an anchor line may have been deployed before the Terror went down.

If true, that sets up the tantalising possibility that British sailors re-manned the vessel after she was abandoned at the top of Victoria Strait in a desperate attempt to escape south.

Balsillie noted that this discovery—like the discovery of the Erebus two years earlier—has dramatic implications.

Balsillie, who also played a key role in planning the expedition, proposed a theory to explain why it seems both Terror and Erebus sank far south of where they were first abandoned.

“This discovery changes history,” he told the Guardian. “Given the location of the find [in Terror Bay] and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate.”

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1989, Section B

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