Dr John Rae (1813–1893) was an Orcadian who pioneered the practical exploration of the Canadian Arctic in the nineteenth century. His adoption of native means of survival was admired by Shackleton and other twentieth-century explorers. Rae Strait, the last link in the North West Passage, was named in his honour. Employed by The Hudson's Bay Company in 1834, he went on to become one of their most celebrated employees.
Over a period of 30 years Rae explored, surveyed and mapped large areas of Northern Canada, notably the coastline. He led two of the numerous expeditions in search of the Franklin Expedition, which went missing in 1845 looking for the North West Passage. He found evidence of their fate in 1854 and in a report to the Royal Navy suggested that they had resorted to cannibalism. Unfortunately this was made public and such allegations alienated him from both the establishment and the Victorian public. In 1864 he made a trans-Greenland survey for the Atlantic Telegraph Company. He was a member of The Orkney Natural History Society.
Where to see this painting?
52 Alfred Street, Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland, KW16 3DH
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.
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