John Rae Society

The John Rae Society is restoring the reputation of John Rae, one of the world’s greatest Arctic explorers. We will be restoring his Orkney birthplace too, namely the derelict Hall of Clestrain in Orphir.
Our society purchased this in 2016 for £87k, all raised by voluntary donations and fundraising. We will also create an internationally renowned Arctic Centre in his name there. Please do explore our website. We would dearly like to have your input.

John Rae was born at the Hall of Clestrain, Orphir, on 30th September 1813, one of seven children. He studied to become a doctor and signed on as ship’s surgeon on the Prince of Wales bound for Canada as part of Hudson’s Bay company operations. Rae was forced to winter in Canada when the ship’s return route was blocked by ice. He accepted the post of surgeon and clerk at Moose Factory and served there for ten years. He spent his free time hunting and learning travel and survival skills from the Inuit, Cree, Dogrib and Metis peoples; including how to use sleds and snow-shoes.

His skills and hardiness made him the perfect choice to undertake expeditions to finish the mapping of the Arctic coast that led to the discovery of the last navigable link of the North-West passage between the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, and to go in search of the doomed Franklin Expedition.

Here is Andrew Appleby, President of The John Rae Society, entertaining Prince Charles with his stunning pottery skills! He also spoke of the Society’s ambitions to restore The Hall of Clestrain. The Prince of Wales showed great interest and asked to be sent ’The Paperwork.’ Exactly one month later he became King Charles III.
The paperwork has been sent and we await his reply.

Our aim is to welcome the world to Orkney to celebrate John Rae’s pioneering work in the Arctic at his restored home and centre where we can work in partnership to grow and share an understanding of the Arctic through education, research, knowledge transfer and cultural awareness. “

– President of John Rae Society, Andrew Appleby