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Norwegian divers assess Baymaud shipwreck
Surprised by lack of opposition to proposed removal of historic ship

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, August 13, 2011

Norwegian divers visited Cambridge Bay earlier this month to assess the condition of the Baymuad shipwreck, which a company plans to move to Norway and make the focal point of a future museum.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jan Wanggaard, left, and Dag Hansen, both from Norway, were in Cambridge Bay recently on behalf of the group Maud Returns Home to collect data and information about the Baymaud shipwreck. Wanggaard met with the hamlet council Aug. 8 to discuss the group's plans to move the shipwreck back to Norway. - photo courtesy of Helen Tologanak

Jan Wanggaard, a project manager with Maud Returns Home, a Norwegian group supported by investment company Tandberg Eiendom, spoke to the hamlet on Aug. 8.

They presented their ideas before council, a meeting he said was very good for both parties.

"It's different from what we thought. We were afraid everybody would be against it," he said.

They had planned the trip for a long time as they wanted to gauge interest and meet the people of Cambridge Bay, said Wanggaard.

"It was extremely important that we came," he said. "We appreciate a lot the response we have had among the people."

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the first person to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage by ship, tried drifting across the North Pole with the Maud in 1918 but was unsuccessful. The ship was sold by creditors to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1925. Renamed Baymaud, it became a floating warehouse and wireless radio station outside Cambridge Bay before it sank in its moorings in 1930. The Hudson's Bay Company sold it to people in Asker, Norway, for $1, in 1990.

About six people from the public, including Vicki Aitaok of the Keep the Baymaud Committee, were in attendance. The committee's petition calling on the federal government to keep the Baymaud in this country has about 200 signatures to date while the one online has 65, said Aitaok.

Cambridge Bay residents seem to support the idea of saving the Baymaud but disagree on how it should be done, said Aitaok. Some want to save it locally while others say the Norwegians should take it.

"I think the end result is going to be win-win, no matter what," she said. "Even if she is not preserved in Cambridge Bay, if she's preserved in Norway, it's better than letting her sit and rot in the bay. Even though we might have lost the battle, I feel like we've won the war because we will be getting her preserved one way or the other. That's a positive thing."

Cambridge Bay Mayor Syd Glawson described the meeting as very comfortable and polite.

"I think it went quite well, really. I'd say it was a good constructive meeting because we finally got the opinion of the Norwegian individuals that are trying to get this thing home," he said. "They presented their ideas on moving the Maud and they were logical, logical to the extent that if the ship is in good enough shape to move, their plan will move it."

But Glawson said he is not convinced the Baymaud is in a good enough shape to be moved.

If the federal government decides they can move it, there is nothing Cambridge Bay can do as the hamlet does not have a say over it, said Glawson.

"I would say 80 to 90 per cent of the people I talked to about the Maud are sitting on the fence if it goes, it goes, if it stays, it stays. They are not that concerned about it," he said.

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