Finding John Rae

Finding John Rae

by Alice Jane Hamilton


  • April 2017
  • print ISBN 978-1-55380-481-9
  • ebook ISBN 978-1-55380-482-6
  • pdf ISBN 978-1-55380-483-3
  • 6″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 228 pp
  • Biography, Creative nonfiction


John Rae was known as the “Arctic Fox” for his ability to trek vast distances in a short time across the Arctic. On one such mapping expedition to the Boothia Peninsula in 1854, Rae discovers both the link to the Northwest Passage and the fate of the missing Franklin Expedition — learning from Inuit hunters that Franklin’s ships had been beset by ice, and that the crew, starving in the cold, had resorted to cannibalism. When the Scottish-born scientist and Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor reports the details in private to the British Admiralty, his statement is secretly but deliberately released to the newspapers. Led by such well-known figures as Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin’s widow, much of the population rises against Rae and his Inuit informants. Alice Jane Hamilton goes on to explore how Rae, through bitter disappointment and soaring hope, rebuilds his life, all the while defending the integrity of the Arctic natives who brought him the evidence of cannibalism.

“Hamilton skilfully blends fact and fiction to breathe new life into the thrilling story of John Rae.”
—Tom Muir, author of Orkney Folk Tales 

“Finding John Rae brings one of the greatest, and most under-appreciated, 19th-century Arctic explorers vividly to life.”
—John Wilson, author of Discovering the Arctic