The 2018 John Rae Society Festival got off to a cracking start with a talk by author Ken McGoogan at the Orkney Theatre, Kirkwall. Those attending could also purchase signed copies of Ken’s latest book about Dr John Rae, “Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the North West Passage”.
Ken McGoogan’s fascinating talk took us through his quest to research and write about Dr John Rae, the Arctic explorer who spent his early years in Orkney until leaving to train as a surgeon in Edinburgh.
Originally conducting research for a fictional story based around the exploits of John Rae, Ken McGoogan became angered by the way Rae’s contribution to Arctic exploration had been played down and written out of history. He realised the book would have to be a factual account. That was the start of what was to become several books on the topic.
With ne’er a falter Ken McGoogan held the audience captive even though many knew much of the life of John Rae but it is such a great tale told by an entrancing story teller that who would not want to hear it again.
Fifty years after John Rae first discovered the North West Passage, Roald Amundsen became the first man to navigate his way through it sailing down Rae’s Strait.
You can read more about John Rae here: Dr John Rae: Arctic Explorer
Ken McGoogan also revealed that in 2019 explorer David Reid will set out to retrace the epic 1854 expedition undertaken by John Rae.
The weekend, 5th and 6th May, will see events at Clestrain House, Orphir, where John Rae grew up. The John Rae Society is renovating the property and returning it to the way it was when the Arctic explorer lived there.
On the Sunday evening there will be a showing of the film “Passage” about John Rae’s search for Franklyn’s lost expedition. It starts at 7.30pm in Stromness Town Hall. You can find out more here
The Orkney News has many articles about John Rae and the Franklyn Expedition. Use our search facility to find out more.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame