• Photo: Tom Sandler/Canadian Geographic

"I will never forget, and I don’t think Canadians — nor anyone in history anywhere in the world — will ever forget those first ghostly images of Erebus preserved on the bottom, nearly whole, in icy perfection as if by an act of God.”

That was Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the March 4 Erebus Reception at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, reminiscing about the historic moment in the summer of 2014 when one of the lost ships of Sir John Franklin’s 1845 Arctic expedition was located on sonar.

The reception, hosted by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, was a celebration of the find and the partners of the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition. Among the 200-plus attendees were federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, U.S. Consul General James Dickmeyer and Toronto mayor John Tory. Canadian folk singer-songwriter James Keelaghan was on hand to perform the traditional Lady Franklin’s Lament and Stan Rogers’ beloved Northwest Passage to open and close the event.

Paul Ruest, president of the RCGS, and John Geiger, the Society’s CEO, presented the first of the new Erebus Medals to the prime minister and his wife Laureen Harper. The leaders of all parties involved in the 2014 search were also each awarded the medal. In all, 220 people have received the medal for their contributions to the success of the search (to see a full list of Erebus medallists, visit rcgs.org). “We recognize the find as a great moment,” said Geiger, “not only in underwater archeology, or in Arctic science, or even in exploration history — but a great moment for Canada.”

Click here to see the full gallery of photos from the event