Talk: Arctic Explorer Dr John Rae

Date: 

Tue, 13/02/2018 - 19:00

Our Speaker for Tuesday Club Night will be John Andrews, who will give a talk on Arctic Explorer John Rae.

Dr John Rae was born near Stromness in the Orkneys. He qualified as a surgeon before joining the Hudson Bay Company in 1833. He became expert at arctic survival, learning from the Inuit people to use snow shoes, sleds, and build igloos.

He surveyed over 1700 miles of the arctic coast of Canada, and in 1854 he brought back to the Admiralty the first news of the Franklin expedition, including evidence of cannibalism amongst the dying crew. His report was leaked to the Times newspaper, and scandalised Victorian Britain. Lady Jane Franklin enlisted Charles Dickensto help destroy Rae’s reputation and he was “airbrushed” out of the history books. His rehabilitation is now largely complete, with a plaque in Westminster Abbey, and the posthumous “Freedom of the Orkneys”.

John Andrews has sailed over 50,000 miles, including southwards to the Falklands and Beagle Channel, and was inspired by the John Rae story to attempt a transit of the Northwest Passage in 2014. He reached 74.5 deg N ; 85.0 deg W before getting stuck in the ice and turning back.

 

Followed by Club Supper.