Rae, John,1813–93, Scottish arctic explorer, b. Orkney Islands. A physician in the employ of the Hudson's Bay CompanyHudson's Bay Company,
corporation chartered (1670) by Charles II of England for the purpose of trade and settlement in the Hudson Bay region of North America and for exploration toward the discovery of the Northwest Passage to Asia.
..... Click the link for more information. in N Canada, Rae made (1846–47) a journey of exploration from Fort Churchill to the Gulf of Boothia, which he described in his Narrative of an Expedition to the Shores of the Arctic Sea (1850). In 1847 he joined Sir John Richardson's expedition in search of the lost party of Sir John FranklinFranklin, Sir John,
1786–1847, British explorer in N Canada whose disappearance caused a widespread search of the Arctic. Entering the navy in 1801, he fought in the battle of Trafalgar.
..... Click the link for more information. , the British explorer; later (1851) he commanded a search party that crossed the tundra and explored part of Victoria Island. It was not until his expedition of 1853–54, however, that he found evidence of Franklin's fate. Rae was an important innovator in arctic travel, coping with the unforgiving environment by adapting techniques developed by indigenous peoples, e.g., snowshoes, fur clothing, igloos, and dog sleds. However, he fell into disfavor and subsequent obscurity in Great Britain after he revealed that members of the starving Franklin party had resorted to cannibalism.
See K. McGoogan, Fatal Passage: The Story of John Rae, the Arctic Hero Time Forgot (2002).