By Ken McGoogan
A Bantam book: 9780553814934
It is not like I am going to tell you about all the books I read. However, sometimes one comes across a book that is rather unknown and that you would like others to know about. This is a book like that. It is a prize-winning biography about an arctic adventurer, the Scotsman John Rae. He is maybe the most famous person from Orkney, at least in Orkney!
John Rae was a Hudson Bay doctor who solved two great Arctic mysteries; the fate of the Franklin expedition and the last navigable link in the Northwest Passage. For Norwegians it is well known that Roald Amundsen was the first person to travel by ship through the passage, but the book about John Rae tells a story about a remarkable person who searched for the passage fifty years before Amundsen. It is also a story about the Hudson Bay Company.
I have not finished the book yet, but I really want to recommend to everybody. It is a well told story about a very tough explorer and the hardship of the northern territories around the Northwest Passage.
When I went to Orkney on my last trip, I also visited Login’s Well, situated in the end of the main street in Stromness. This is the very place that Hudson Bay ships would get their fresh water before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. As you can read, it is also where sir John Franklin took aboard water before he went on his fatal excursion to try and find the Northwest Passage.