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.

John Rae