Finding John Rae
This creative nonfiction biography of the celebrated Arctic explorer Dr. John Rae begins in 1854 when, on a mapping expedition to the Boothia Peninsula, Rae discovers the missing link in the Northwest Passage. On the same trip, a chance encounter with an Inuit hunter leads him to uncover the tragic fate that befell the officers and crew of the long-missing Franklin Expedition when, starving on the ice, they resorted to cannibalism. When the Scottish-born scientist and Hudson's Bay Company Chief Factor reports the shocking details about the men's demise to the British Admiralty, he is publicly belittled by such well-known Victorian society figures as the novelist Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin's widow, Jane. From then on, Rae's life becomes a restless journey of soaring hope and bitter disappointment, as he attempts to restore his good reputation with the British public, defend the integrity of the Arctic natives who brought him detailed testimony about the evidence of cannibalism, and rebuild his shattered identity. Rae's search for what has been lost takes him to Hamilton, Lower Canada, across Rupert's Land to the Pacific Coast, to the Faroe Islands, across Greenland, and then finally home to the Orkney Islands where yet another turn of events catches him by surprise.