Orphir-born John Rae was one of the greatest Arctic explorers of all time. He travelled thousands of miles of uncharted territory to discover the fate of the Franklin expedition and the final link in the Northwest Passage.
Polar historian Dr Maria Pia Casarini tells the story of the search and its challenges. Sea ice expert Prof. Peter Wadhams describes how changing climate conditions today are affecting the Arctic ice and opening up the Northwest Passage for shipping. Cake and refreshments included, along with readings from John Rae’s Arctic journals and news of the plans for his birthplace, the Hall of Clestrain.
In association with the John Rae Society
During the night of the 10th, when near the north end of the lake, we experienced one of the severest snow storms I ever witnessed. As we were sleeping on shore we never thought of putting up any sort of shelter; the consequence was that in the morning we were covered with snow to the depth of a foot. Our boat, which had been hauled up on the beach, was blown away from her fastenings, and carried several hundred yards into the lake among some stones. Being the only one of the party provided on the spot with Macintosh boots, it fell to my lot to wade out to the boat, throw overboard the ballast, lift her bows over the stones, and take a line to the shore; which, from having miscalculated the depth of the water, I found a more disagreeable task than I had expected. Fortunately the boat sustained no injury. It was now about 6 o’clock in the morning of the 11th, and as the storm continued unabated we made a sort of tent of our sails. In doing this the men got so wet and cold, from the snow thawing on them, that they could not even light their pipes.
In the afternoon the weather improved, and we were able to scrape a little fuel together, with which we cooked some salmon and boiled a kettle of tea, which made us feel quite comfortable again.
– From the journals of John Rae