Book details

Publication date: January 2019
Features: 8 B&W images, 4 maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Keywords: Arctic Exploration / Biography / History
Subject(s): BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Adventurers & Explorers, Arctic Exploration / Biography / History, HISTORY / Polar Regions, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical, History of specific lands, HISTORY / Canada / Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Arctic Exploration / Biography / History
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press
John Rae (1813–1893) was an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company who explored substantial sections of the north coast of North America, and was the first to reveal the fate of the Franklin expedition. William Barr has researched the history of exploration of the polar regions for over 40 years. He has published 23 books, including edited translations from French, German, and Russian. He is a Senior Research Associate with the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary.

"The autobiography breaks off mid-way through his last expedition and in mid-sentence at the bottom of a page.... William Barr edits with self-effacing thoroughness, interpolating passages of correspondence to fill lacunae in the narrative, adding copious notes, and appending mini-biographies of the people who travelled with Rae. Notwithstanding its truncation, the torso of autobiography that remains is an impressive one." Times Literary Supplement, June 14, 2019

Jonathan Dore


"Barr’s skillful editing of the unfinished autobiography is a meticulous enterprise, based not only on the surviving manuscript but on other primary sources. It’s a book you’ll dip into while anchored somewhere comfortable, evening after evening, entranced by the understated narrative.... This monumental volume is a tribute to a truly remarkable arctic traveler and voyager, whose achievements leave one breathless with admiration. In a way, this 648-page book is a true page-turner, largely because Rae writes so humbly about his extraordinary journeys and carries you with him." Good Old Boat, Vol. 2, No. 7, May 2019 [Full review at https://audioseastories.com/bkr-rae]

Brian Fagan


"John Rae...spent ten years as resident physician at Moose Factory. Then, in 1846 he launched his career as an explorer when he participated in a survey of Committee Bay. A year later, he started a six-year search for the missing Franklin Expedition, and finally revealed its tragic fate.... William Barr... has produced a well rounded and important volume about this significant explorer."

Alberta History


"Barr is a superb editor and annotator. He links portions of the text together by inserting Rae's correspondence with senior officials in the HBC and the British government. While Rae's manuscript ends on April 15, 1854, Rae expertly relates the final 39 years of the explorer's life in a mere 16 pages.... Impressive is often overused. It should be reserved for works such as this that leave an impression on a reader's mind of the nineteenth century explorers who not only opened up new vistas but wrote about them in words that embody the spirit of adventure that set them loose in the unknown."

Gary C. Stein, Alaska History


"...Barr's editorial work--particularly the extensive and very informative endnotes--deserves high commendation. The volume also contains several excellent maps.... John Rae, Arctic Explorer is a major contribution to the literature of northern exploration."

Janice Cavell, Journal of Historical Geography 68 (2020)

"Rae’s unfinished autobiography alone would warrant publication in some form, and with Barr’s added account of the second half of his life, and his copious notes and references, it provides a unique record of his achievements."

W. Gillies Ross, Professor Emeritus of Geography, Bishop's University


Scholarly and Academic Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta, Canada
Short-listed
2020
1 ORKNEY CHILDHOOD
2 VOYAGE TO HUDSON BAY AND WINTER ON CHARLTON ISLAND
3 MOOSE F ACTORY: L IFE, PE OPLE, H UNTING, S HOOTING, A ND T RAPPING
4 MOOSE FACTORY–FORT GARRY–TORONTO–YORK FACTORY
5 1846–1847 ARCTIC EXPEDITION
6 SEARCHING FOR FRANKLIN WITH SIR JOHN RICHARDSON, 1848
7 WINTER AT FORT CONFIDENCE, 1848 –1849
8 BOURGEOI S AT FORT SIMPSON
9 NORTH AGAIN—AND ANOTHER WINTER AT FORT CONFIDENCE
10 SLEDGE E XPEDITION T O V ICTORIA I SLAND, S PRING 1 851
1 1 BOAT E XPEDITION, S UMMER 1 851
12 FROM FORT CHIPEWYAN TO FORT GARRY TO ENGLAND
13 BACK TO THE ARCTIC, 1853 : FROM ENGLAND TO CHURCHILL
14 FROM CHURCHILL TO REPULSE BAY
15 A SECOND WINTER AT REPULSE BAY, 1853–1854
16 NORTH AGAIN—TO CLOSE THE LAST GAP
17 THE SECOND HALF OF HI S LIFE
ISBNs: 9781772123326 978-1-77212-332-6 Title: john rae arctic explorer ISBNs: 9781772123852 978-1-77212-385-2 Title: john rae arctic explorer