Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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RAE, John, explorer, born in Clestrain House, in the Orkney islands, 30 September, 1813. Sir Walter Scott visited Clestrain, when travelling in the Orkney islands, to gain local information for writing "The Pirate." Mr. Rae studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1829 till 1833, when he was graduated, entered the service of the Hudson bay company as surgeon, and lived at Moose fort from 1835 till 1845, making many explorations in British America. In 1846-'7 he visited the Arctic sea, and spent the winter in a stonehouse at Repulse bay without fuel, during which time he traced about 635 statute miles of new land and coast forming the shores of Committee bay. In 1848 he accompanied Sir John Richardson in a search for Sir John Franklin along the coast from Mackenzie river to Coppermine river, and in 1850 was placed in charge of a similar expedition by the Hudson bay company. He chose the route by Great Bear lake and Coppermine river, tracing 630 miles of unexplored coast along the southern shores of Victoria and Wollaston lands, and finding two pieces of wood that were probably parts of Sir John Franklin's vessels. The Esquimaux gave him scant, information regarding the party they had seen a. few years before, and Dr. Rue explains in a pamphlet, published in London, that the reason he did not immediately search for his supposed countrymen was owing to his imperfect knowledge of" their mute, and to the condition of the lowlands flooded by melting snow, which rendered progress impossible. In 1853 the Hudson bay company fitted out a boat expedition at his request to complete the survey of the Arctic coast along the west shore of Boothia, and during this expedition to Repulse bay in 1853-'4 he discovered a new river, which falls into Chesterfield inlet. In the following spring, after travelling 1,100 miles, he was the first discoverer of certain traces of Sir John Franklin's party, for which he was paid £10,000 by the English government. He purchased from the Esquimaux numerous relies, among which were Sir John Franklin's cross of knighthood, a gold cap-band, silver spoons and forks, coin, and several watches. In 1860 he took charge of a survey for laying a cable between England and America, via Faroe, Iceland, and Greenland, and in 1864 he conducted a telegraph survey from Winnipeg to the Pacific coast, through the British territory, and crossing the Rocky mountains about latitude 53°. This line was not formed, as the Canada Pacific railway was laid in a more southern course, and the telegraph followed the railway. In 1852 he received the founder's gold medal of the Royal geographical society of London. He received the degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh, and that of M.D. from McGill college, Montreal, in 1880, and was also a member of the Natural history society of that city and of several distinguished societies. Dr. Rue was the author of a "Narrative of an Expedition to the Shores of the Arctic Sea in 1846 and 1847" (London, 1850). See "Dr. Rae and the Report of Capt. McClintock" (New York, 1860).
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