Finding John Rae


by Alice Jane Hamilton (2017: Ronsdale Press, Vancouver)

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John Rae was known as the “Arctic Fox” for his ability to trek vast distances in a short time across the Arctic. On one such mapping expedition to the Boothia Peninsula in 1854, Rae discovers both the link to the Northwest Passage and the fate of the missing Franklin Expedition ― learning from Inuit hunters that Franklin’s two ships had been beset by ice and that the crew, starving in the cold, had resorted to cannibalism. When the Orcadian-born scientist and Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor reports the details in private to the British Admiralty, his statement is secretly but deliberately released to the newspapers.

Led by such well-known figures as Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin’s widow Jane, much of the British population rises against Rae and his Inuit informants.

Alice Jane Hamilton goes on to explore how Rae, through bitter disappointment and soaring hope, rebuilds his life, all the while defending the integrity of the Arctic natives who brought him the evidence of cannibalism.


“Hamilton skilfully blends fact and fiction to breathe new life into the thrilling story of John Rae.” ― Tom Muir, author of Orkney Folk Tales

“Finding John Rae brings one of the greatest and most under-appreciated 19th-century Arctic explorers vividly to life.” ― John Wilson, author of Discovering the Arctic

“Alice Jane Hamilton upends the standard narrative of 19th-century Arctic exploration, focussing not on the vainglorious search for the doomed Franklin Expedition, but on those left in its wake. Hamilton vividly recounts the odyssey of her Orcadian Ancestor.” ― Dylan Burrows, Ormsby Press Review, British Columbia

Additional information

Weight0.1 kg
Dimensions25 × 18 × 0.5 cm