Culture

Rowing Across the Rae Strait – in the Living Room

By  James Chalmers and Mark Newton.

James Chalmers former College lecturer and JRS member is attempting to row across the Rae Strait in his living room as his part of the John Rae Challenge to help raise money for the restoration of the Hall of Clestrain

“The challenge I have set myself is to row – virtually, using a Waterrower® rowing machine – across Rae Strait, a distance of 14 miles, or 22.4 kilometres.  I’m out of practice, indeed, never was in practice, so I feel it will be a challenge and one which I admit I don’t intend to do non-stop but will attempt to do it within a four-hour period.”

If you would like to sponsor James then please go to our Just Giving page and donate what you can.

At one time, marine trade between Europe and the Far East had to go round Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope, both long and potentially treacherous routes.  Given the lure of the Oriental riches, the economic value of having a short passage in northern Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific has therefore long been recognised. 

There is strong evidence, although poorly recognised, that the final link in the Passage, between King William Island and the Boothia Peninsula, was first suggested by the explorer and surveyor, Dr John Rae of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1854.  This channel, later named Rae Strait, was eventually successfully navigated by the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen in 1903, giving credence to the claim that John Rae discovered the final link.

The restoration of John Rae’s birthplace and its adaption to a community event venue is a big project that, whilst we are applying for various grants, these will not cover all the money needed. The John Rae Society is very aware that for this to succeed the community needs to be behind it and involved.

Many thanks to The John Rae Society for permission to republish their article and to Bernie Bell for sending it to The Orkney News

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