Celebrating John Rae at Wilderness Symposium

No, this is not an image taken at the symposium. But I couldn’t resist: I had to show them this slide. Here we have Jenna Andersen doing the only handstand that has ever been done at the site where John Rae discovered the final link in the Northwest Passage. A bunch of us got to this hard-to-reach Arctic location in 2012 with Adventure Canada. I had been there before, in 1998, when three of us put that plaque there: me, Inuk explorer Louie Kamookak, and antiquarian Cameron Treleaven. On this return visit, Sheena Fraser McGoogan captured the handstand for posterity. To the right of the plaque, you can see the remains of the cairn that Rae built in 1854.  Of course, I wrote about this in Fatal Passage.  But earlier today, I outlined the Rae saga here in Toronto at the 29th annual Wilderness and Canoe Symposium — to an enthusiastic audience of 500, no lie. I had met the woman who introduced at the airport in Kugluktuk. She had just paddled down the Coppermine River — while reading Lady Franklin’s Revenge, I might add — along the route pioneered by Samuel Hearne. Anyway, hats off to the organizers of that symposium. Thanks to folks like you, we may yet get Rae recognized at Westminster Abbey.

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