School trip with the JRS chest

20 September 2021

What a wonderful morning it was when I opened an email from Shirley Stuart, Head Teacher of North Walls Community School! It told us in The John Rae Society just how much the pupils were inspired and enjoyed the loan of our John Rae Chest which is full of books, teachers notes and artifacts as you can see, many of these were donated by the Hudson Bay Company in Canada. The box helps to visualise John Rae and his extraordinary life.

You can see from these pictures just how much an effect it had. Their teacher Shirley Stuart says:

Putting up the tent

Not an igloo as we had no snow, but a perfectly good wild shelter for the youngsters.

They geared up to trek to their temporary home. Note the sealskin boots and superb felted clothing with a Polar Bear styled hood. A doctor’s bag and great protective gloves, all stimulating one’s imagination.

There they are with sun squints, learning even more of John Rae’s amazing exploits.

The John Rae Chest being returned to its unique home: The Hall of Clestrain.

All packed up

As with all schools within Orkney, beyond and far beyond, we wish to encourage much greater familiarity and knowledge of John Rae. We all know that his ethos, exploits and huge achievements have been largely overlooked and even concealed from history. Our JR is a truly modern inspiration of how to conduct one’s self in these times. Total respect of other peoples, learning from them and allowing one’s self to aspire to be equal with them.

Thank you pupils of Hoy and Walls Community School for your splendid participation.

If you wish to use our John Rae Chest for an educational project please contact the John Rae Society at

With all good wishes,

Andrew Appleby.

President of The John Rae Society.