The Steps of John Rae Retraced

Arctic
Richard Smith (yellow jacket) and David Reid (second from right) with local Inuit. Photo: Frank Wolf

Members of the Arctic Return team, David Reid and Richard Smith, have completed their 650km expedition across Canada’s Boothia Peninsula from Naujaat to Point de la Guiche, re-tracing the steps of Arctic explorer, John Rae.

The pair located a plaque, placed there in 1999 by Louie Kamookak, Cameron Treleaven and Ken McGoogan, marking the spot where Rae discovered the final link in the Northwest Passage in 1854.

Team leader, Reid, dedicated their feat to Rae and Louie Kamookak, the Inuk historian from Gjoa Haven, largely responsible for raising awareness of the region’s history. “We feel incredibly proud and privileged that we are here, that we made it and we are able to pay our tribute to him (Rae),” said Reid. ” It is an incredibly humbling experience, and words fail to do justice to our being here this moment in time,” he added.

The Artic Return Team from left Richard Smith, David Reid, Frank Wolf and Garry Tutte. Photo: Garry Tutte

It took the team 29 days to complete the journey enduring blizzards with 70kmh winds and extreme temperatures with wind chill down to almost -50 degrees. The remaining members of the team, film-maker Garry Tutte and adventurer Frank Wolf, failed to complete the expedition after suffering foot injuries.

Reid hopes the Arctic Return expedition will raise funds to support the ongoing effort to restore the Hall of Clestrain at Orphir, Orkney, Scotland. The Hall is the derelict Rae family home, proposed to house a heritage centre honouring Rae’s legacy and to tell the wider story of Arctic exploration.

Further background to the expedition is available on the Arctic Return website.

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David Reid to lead expedition across Boothia Peninsula re-tracing the footsteps of Dr. John Rae

About the Author

Peter Winsor

Peter is a journalist, travel writer and photographer based on the Gold Coast, Australia.

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