In late March, the Arctic Return Expedition will leave Naujaat (Repulse Bay) in Nunavut, Canada and embark upon a 650 km (400 miles) trek across Boothia Peninsula to Rae Strait. The route will be same taken by Orcadian explorer John Rae in 1854. The Arctic Return Expedition will pay tribute to and raise awareness of Rae, one of the greatest explorers and surveyors, that ever lived. Rae’s success was due in large part to his willingness to learn from the Indigenous people and culture of the regions he explored. It was during his 1854 expedition that Rae and his companions discovered the missing link to the first navigable Northwest Passage and the most salient facts pertaining to the fate of the failed Franklin expedition.
From Naujaat, the expedition will head west across the sea ice and then north towards Committee Bay (Gulf of Boothia) From there, the route will take the team across Simpson Peninsula to Pelly Bay, just south of the community of Kugaaruk. Continuing west, the route will cross Boothia Peninsula towards Point De La Guiche. Taloyoak (formally known as Spence Bay) is located to the north east of this point. It is from Point De La Guiche, that the team will once again cross sea ice and Rae Strait to King William Island. The community of Gjoa Haven is the end destination for the expedition.
The goal of the 2019 expedition, with accompanying book and film, is to raise awareness and appreciation of Rae, his accomplishments, and promote the restoration and conversion of his family home in Orkney into an interpretive Arctic History Centre.
In March 2019, the Arctic Return Expedition team will return to Naujaat and embark upon a 650-kilometre trek across Boothia Peninsula that will follow the route taken by Rae and his indigenous companions.
Travelling on skis, the Arctic Return team will pay tribute to and honour one of the greatest Arctic explorers. John Rae’s success was due in great part to his willingness to learn from the Indigenous people of the region. He traveled with patience, humility, respect and honesty. The Arctic Return team will follow that example. The expedition will bear witness to a land, a people and a history. At the same time, recognizing the importance of learning from Indigenous people not just in the North but South, East and West.
The four person Arctic Return team will be self sufficient, travelling at what can be the coldest time of year. The expedition is expected to take around 35 days.
The 2019 expedition is driven also by a concern for John Rae’s birthplace and boyhood home, the Hall of Clestrain. Built in Orphir near Stromness, Orkney, in 1769, it is in urgent need of repair and restoration. The expedition enthusiastically supports the John Rae Society in its determination to renovate the Hall and transform it into a world-class interpretive centre. That centre will not only honour Rae and his accomplishments, but celebrate Arctic exploration and the importance of Indigenous knowledge in that endeavour.
The Arctic Return is more than just an expedition, it’s a teaching tool for educators, an inspiring visual book by a revered author, a broadcast documentary by an award winning filmmaker, and a fundraising and awareness campaign for the Hall of Clestrain. We look forward to sharing this incredible story and journey with you!
THE ARCTIC RETURN FILM
Expedition team member Garry Tutte is an award winning filmmaker and storyteller.
He will produce a feature length documentary that parallels events of John Rae’s life and his legendary 1854 journey with the 2019 Arctic Return Expedition. The film will be distributed for broadcast and festival release.
THE ARCTIC RETURN BOOK
Award winning author and historian Ken McGoogan plans to collaborate on a book about the Arctic Return Expedition.
The book will tell the whole story of the journey, including maps, photographs and references to the original journey taken by John Rae and his companions in 1854.
THE HALL OF CLESTRAIN
The 2019 Arctic Return Expedition is driven also by a concern for John Rae’s birthplace and boyhood home, the Hall of Clestrain.
Built in Stromness, Orkney, in 1769, it is in urgent need of repair and restoration. The expedition enthusiastically supports the John Rae Society and their restoration of Rae’s family home into an Arctic Interpretive centre.