John Rae Centre will celebrate Orkney, the Arctic, and the Inuit

I do love this image created by Orcadian photographer James Grieve. He has combined photos of the Stromness statue of explorer John Rae and the Hall of Clestrain, where Rae was born in 1813. Having visited the Hall a few times over the years, I still most vividly remember the first time, in 1998, when the building was in rougher shape and Orcadians were just beginning their long struggle to restore the landmark edifice to its original splendour. In 2013, this initiative gained impetus with the formation of the John Rae Society. The Society is bent on turning the Hall into a John Rae Centre celebrating the links between Orkney, the Canadian Arctic, and John Rae’s Inuit and First Nations allies. OK, I may have mentioned this once or twice. But those just discovering Rae might enjoy reading about when the Society purchased the Hall or the unveiling of the National Commemorative Plaque, or look, here’s an Open Letter to the Explorer on His Birthday.  A more comprehensive narrative is coming in September, when HarperCollins Canada publishes Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage. Meanwhile, to achieve its objective, the John Rae Society has launched a Go Fund Me campaign. Turn the Hall of Clestrain into a John Rae Centre? All I can say is YES!


  1. The Furry Gnome on February 1, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Glad to see such progress! I well remember being there and hearing you lament the stae of the building (and Rae's reputation) in 2011. You must get a lot of satisfaction from this.

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