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The John Rae Society Festival 2017

The John Rae Society Festival 2017

photo 1How did it go? Report from the festival


Programme for the festival published - pdf version here

The John Rae Society is pleased to announce that it will be holding a Festival and Book Launch from 5th - 8th May 2017. We are excited to have arranged for two well-known authors, Dr Russell Potter from America and Alice Jane Hamilton from Canada, to visit during our festival and give talks on their recent books. Jane will be launching her new book, “Finding John Rae”.

The festival will include displays of falconry and foraging demonstrations harking back to John Rae’s important skills of self-sufficiency. There will of course be raffles with some great prizes. You can come and visit us at the Hall of Clestrain to chat about our exciting plans for its future. If you would like to volunteer to help us with this festival please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. More details will be published on this site.

A bit about our ‘stars’

russellpotter author klcDr Russell A. Potter - is among the foremost historians of Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition and those who searched for it. He has written extensively for more than twenty years about almost every aspect of the expedition: in his 2007 book Arctic Spectacles, on his “Visions of the North” blog, and as the founding editor of the Arctic Book Review.


rap resoluteHe also served as the featured on-location expert in the 2005 Channel 4 documentary, Search for the Northwest Passage.His latest book, Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search, was published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in September of 2016; he also edited the late Garth Walpole’s Relics of the Franklin Expedition: Discovering Artifacts from the Doomed Arctic Voyage of 1845, published by McFarland in January of 2017.



photo 2(Alice) Jane Hamilton - is the great-great granddaughter of John Rae’s sister, Marion Sibbald Rae. Marion, her husband John Hamilton and their ten children emigrated from Stromness, Orkney, Scotland to Hamilton, Canada West (later named Ontario) in 1856. Long interested in her famous relative, Hamilton has spent many years researching the life of John Rae.

She holds an Honours B.A. in English and Japanese Studies from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and an M.A. in Modern Literatures from Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom. She has taught Communications, Visual Analysis and Canadian Literature at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. A keen historian, she has written articles for CBC Radio (“Fresh Air” and “Morningside”), as well as various news publications including the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post.

Hamilton lives with her husband Don Cooper in the small town of Penetanguishene, on Georgian Bay, Ontario, from which then-lieutenant John Franklin left by canoe in 1825 on his second overland journey to the Arctic, in search of the Northwest Passage. Jane Hamilton and her husband have a combined family of five children and seven grandchildren, along with two horses and two dogs.


Arctic Return

We have heard from our friends in Canada that there is an expedition to the arctic planned in 2019 in commemoration of John Rae's exploits. This is from the expedition website


John Rae to be given the Freedom of Orkney

The Presentation of this honour will be made by the Council in Stromness on Saturday 30th September 2017 all welcome. The News that the The Orkney Isles Council is awarding Dr.


Our Lottery Prizes for 2017

These are some of the great prizes that can be won in this year's John Rae Society Lottery. We will be drawing this on John Rae's birthday 30th September, so



Talk by Tom Muir

In the Wake of John Rae A review of the talk by Tom Muir at Stromness Town Hall Monday 2nd April 2018, 7.30pm An audience of around fifty enjoyed a talk by


TALK: - Sir John Richardson and Dr John Rae: Scottish Doctors and Explorers in Search of Franklin

A talk by Adam Doskey, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignRoyal Hotel, Stromness Wednesday 11th July 2018, 7.30pm Though born 25 years apart, these two explorers


Nature Festival - John Rae Trail

As part of the 2017 Orkney Nature Festival, the John Rae Society ran a Family John Rae Explorer Trail around Stromness on Friday 19th May, led by Rachel Boak, from


Support Us


Membership is open to any person, or corporate body, who has an interest in the life of John Rae and supports the aims and objectives of The John Rae Society

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As a Registered Charity we are always needing funding for many projects within a variety of time frames. We are grateful for anything you can afford and you can donate by PayPal, cheque or BACS.

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John Rae


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