Earlier this week, about 50 Northwest Passage voyagers landed on Boothia Peninsula to pay homage to explorer John Rae by visiting the John Rae Plaque and Cairn.
Marine biologist Pierre Richard, pictured above taking a selfie at the site, was the one who let me know. Over the years, while sailing with Adventure Canada, I became friends with Pierre, who is a leading north Atlantic and Arctic marine mammal specialist. He reached out from Pasley Bay to get the latitude and longitude of the plaque, which with Cameron Treleaven and the late Louie Kamookak, I erected at the site in 1999.
Pierre explained that he was sailing aboard the Sylvia Earle with Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, and that expedition leader Ashley Perrin — who admired John Rae and my book Fatal Passage — wanted to “look for the plaque with a passenger-landing at Point de la Guiche.” I was traveling in Quebec but managed to ferret out the latitude. I knew the longitude on the plaque was incorrect, because I had taken it from Rae, whose instruments (we’re talking 1854) meant he never had a chance.
No worries because in 2012, I revisited the plaque with Adventure Canada and knew that someone approaching in a zodiac could see it from the water. Sure enough, zodiac manager Ryan Kaempfe did just that. Then, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m., Perrin and Richard landed their people “in beautiful sunny +3C weather.”
Richard, who doubles as a bird-watcher and naturalist, spotted Brown Lemming, Glaucous Gulls, Sandpipers, black-bellied plover, and “lots of tracks and scats of geese, muskox, and fox.”
With Pierre Richard in the selfie? Nils Egeland and Alex Cowan. Oh, and the lat and long? Ashley Perrin nailed the coordinates: 68 degrees 57.902 minutes North; 94 degrees 35.005 minutes West.