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Scottish doctor and explorer John Rae is a controversial figure in the history of the Arctic. He began his career with the Hudson's Bay Company as a surgeon in Moose Factory, Ontario, where he learned to survey, live off the land, and travel great distances on snowshoes. These skills served him well when, in 1846, he was charged with completing the geography of the northern shore of North America and set out on his first expedition. Some years later, while exploring the Boothia Peninsula in 1854, Rae obtained information about the rather shocking fate of the Franklin expedition, which had been missing since 1845. Upon his return to England, however, Rae was discredited by Charles Dickens and shunned by the British establishment, never receiving proper recognition for his roles in finding the Northwest Passage and discovering the fate of Franklin and his crew.

The Arctic Journals of John Rae is the definitive collection of John Rae's writings, from his only published work, Narrative of an Expedition to the Shores of the Arctic Sea in 1846 and 1847, to obscure notes and journals and reports of his controversial findings in 1854. An accomplished explorer who had great respect for the customs and skills of the peoples native to the Arctic, John Rae is a fascinating figure and an important part of the history of the North.

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