Finding John Rae

  with Alice ane Hamilton


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Visit to Orkney in Honour of John Rae

Posted by [email protected] on October 10, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Events in Orkney were spectacular - September 29th to October 1st, 2017.

I am so glad I went. I will post photos and write about it! Updates on John Rae activities can also be found by visiting (Orkney), on Facebook via The John Rae Society, and on my new Facebook page Finding John Rae.

There was another terrific Finding John Rae event in here in Penetanguishene two days after I arrived home. Will post photos and write about that, as well.

Orkney Visit Schedule - September 2017

Posted by [email protected] on September 27, 2017 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Friday, September 29:

Luncheon at Royal Hotel, Stromness, hosted by the John Rae Society

Evening performance of the play "Hudson Bay Man" and launch of a CD of the play

Evening lecture by Dr. Claire Warrior, Ethnographer (Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, U.K.) and Senior Curator of the "Death in the Ice" exhibition about the Franklin Expedition, currently drawing large crowds at the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The exhibition will come to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec (Ottawa) in March 2018.

Saturday, September 30th: (John Rae's 204th birthday)

9:30 a.m. gathering at John Rae's statue, Pier Head at Stromness, where the Orkney Islands Council will bestow a posthumous Freedom of Orkney award in honour of John Rae. Afterwards, a reception at the Warehouse Building in the Port of Stromness.

Graveside Service and Ceremony honouring John Rae on his birth date at St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, with a special address by OIC member Harvey Johnston, and a performance of the John Rae Reel by the Maureen Findlay School of Dance.

Evening performance of "Hudson Bay Man" in the theatre at Kirkwall Grammar School, followed by a a talk with the much-admired Orcadian curator, historian and storyteller Tom Muir. 

Showing of Canadian filmmaker John Walker's unique film "Passage", examining John Rae and his controversial report (1854) about what had happened to many of the men on the Franklin Expedition. Tom Muir will discuss his role in certain events which take place in the film.

Sunday, October 1st:

Open Day at the Hall of Clestrain, Orphir, hosted by the John Rae Society.

Off to Orkney Again!

Posted by [email protected] on September 23, 2017 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I will be in Orkney next weekend (Sept. 28-Oct. 1) to participate in celebrating the 204th birthday of Dr. John Rae. Festivities will include a luncheon, a play, music and dance, a presentation by Dr. Claire Warrior, Curator of the Franklin Expedition "Death in the Ice" exhibition in Greenwich, London, and John Walker's film "Passage". The Orkney Islands Council will present the Freedom of Orkney Award posthumously to John Rae, through an Orcadian relative at the location of his commemorative statue in Stromness, followed by a reception. There will be a service and celebration of Rae's life and achievements at his graveside in the kirkyard of St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, as well. Much to look forward to! 

Visit to Hamilton, Ontario

Posted by [email protected] on September 15, 2017 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

September 12, 2017: I had a nice and informative visit with Aurelia Shaw, Secretary of HAALSA (Hamilton Association for the Advancement Literature, Science and Art (co-founded by John Rae in 1857), and David Keane, Treasurer, in Hamilton, Ontario. We visited several sites related to Rae family members, who had emigrated from Orkney in the 1800s. Two photos have been added to the photo albums category on this website.

September 3, 2017: Extract from (Morning News)

Posted by [email protected] on September 4, 2017 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

'Credit is going back to our ancestors': Gjoa Haven celebrates Erebus and Terror finds

Weeklong festival in Gjoa Haven commemorates 'Encounters along the Northwest Passage'

CBC News Posted: Sep 03, 2017 6:00 AM CT Last Updated: Sep 03, 2017 6:00 AM CT

Louie Kamookak's knowledge of Inuit oral history was key in the 2014 discovery of one of Franklin's lost ships, HMS Erebus. He'll be speaking at the community celebration in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. (Mike Salomonie/CBC)

Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, is marking the finding of the two ships lost in Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition through the Northwest Passage with a week-long community celebration.

The festival of the discovery of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror begins with a community feast Saturday during the Gjoa Haven Umiyaqtutt Festival. Activities commemorating the finds and celebrating Inuit oral history will continue throughout the week.

"The ships have been searched for, for so many years and the credit is going back to our ancestors, our people's oral history and Inuit knowledge," explained Louie Kamookak, an Inuk oral historian who helped discover HMS Erebus in 2014.

Gjoa Haven terror cake (photo on CBC website)

Children in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut gather around a cake made out to look like one of Sir John Franklin's lost ships. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

"It's very important for the community to feel they are a part of finding it," Kamookak said.

The festival will include a ceremony unveiling a plaque commemorating the finds, an art competition, daily games, and storytelling. Special guests from the marine archeological team as well as cruise ship passengers are expected to attend.

Parks Canada, the Hamlet of Gjoa Haven and the Government of Nunavut are collaborating on the festival with the theme "Encounters along the Northwest Passage."

During the event, Kamookak will be presenting on the role Inuit oral history and local knowledge played in the search for the ships.

Both disappeared after they became locked in ice in 1846 and were missing for more than a century-and-a-half before the recent finds.

Square Dancing in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut (photo on CBC website)

The children's square dance group performs during the community celebration of the finding of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus in Gjoa Haven. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

A team of public-private searchers led by Parks Canada discovered HMS Erebus in September 2014.

Researchers found HMS Terror in Terror Bay last year, after Gjoa Haven's Sammy Kogvik led them to the site he'd first discovered six years earlier.

Inuit oral history was proven correct in both instances, with several stories detailing the time Franklin's ships became locked in the ice, Kamookak said.

Artwork in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut (photo on CBC website)

Local art is on display in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut as part of the community's celebration of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror finds. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

"There's an Inuit oral history from the time Franklin's men were here," Kamookak said. "It was a bad time. There was a lot of ice not leaving, it was also a bad time for the Inuit."

Franklin find proves 'Inuit oral history is strong' says Louie Kamookak

Kamookak says he hopes the two ships will stay in the North and become a tourist opportunity for the communities where the ships sank.

July 2017: Dr. John Rae to be Honoured with "Freedom of Orkney" Award

Posted by [email protected] on July 5, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

BBC Scotland has just published an article announcing that Dr. John Rae has been selected for the "Freedom of Orkney" award! Great news. He even bested Orkney's parton saint, St. Magnus, who was martyred 900 years ago (after whom St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, was named).

Search: Orkney and Shetland - July 5, 2017

You can also visit

I will try to post the article on this website, as well.

John Rae Society Festival in Orkney, Scotland - May 2017

Posted by [email protected] on July 5, 2017 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The First Annual John Rae Society Festival, which was held in Orkney this past May, was a wonderful experience for all who participated, including me!

I will write about it - still waiting for new glasses after eye surgery on May 17th.

In the meantime, some photos have been posted under the "Photo Album" tab above.

December 2 News

Posted by [email protected] on December 3, 2016 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Hudson's Bay Company has named this year's Christmas Charity Bear John Rae! The bear wears a smart-looking tartan vest, with a pocket compass, and a black bow tie. Cdn. $21.99 - net proceeds to designated charities. Vist the HBC website for more information.

My book "Finding John Rae" is now available for pre-order on (release March 30, 2017) - you can visit the website and type in the title, to view the cover and read a short descriptive blurb about the story.

Best wishes,

Jane :)


Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2016 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

This website and blog have been sorely neglected for too long, while I have continued writing my creative non-fiction book Finding John Rae.

The project has been taking longer than anticipated, but the end result will be well worth the wait. Under the excellent guidance of Ronald Hatch of Ronsdale Press in Vancouver, British columbia, my work is growing stronger.

The revised publication date is Spring 2017.


David C. Woodman's book has been re-issued

Posted by [email protected] on June 4, 2015 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

In July, 1991, Canadian author, historian and officer aboard the oceanographic research vessel Endeavour, David C. Woodman, published a book titled "Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: Inuit Testimony".

Its pages offer a highly detailed and objective analysis of testimony, information and events surrounding the 19th century disappearance of the Erebus, Terror, John Franklin, James Fitzjames, Francis Moira Crawdon Crozier and their men.  

Like Scottish explorer John Rae in the 1850s, the author acknowledges the value of Inuit testimony in the quest to ascertain what really happened.

Mr. Woodman disagrees with the theory that Franklin's men died from lead poisoning. He supports the veracity of the Inuit testimony collected by John Rae and American investigaor Charles Hall.

Mr. Woodman's expansive examination of facts, testimony and conjecture leaves few stones unturned. Now that forensic studies of the Erebus have begun, Mr. Woodman has re-released his book. It is fascinating to read it with new and unfolding information at hand.

I recommend it as good reading for anyone wishing to follow the threads in the unravelling of the mystery.

The author lives in Victoria, British Columbia.