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Our Hero says goodbye to the magic of Orkney

Our Hero says goodbye to the statue of John Rae, erected in the heart of Stromness on Sept. 30, 2013 to mark the explorer's 200th birthday. Yes, Rae lives on in the hearts of many. This statute will be the first thing you see when you get off the ferry from mainland Scotland, which is a great way to arrive.

Stromness offers plenty of excellent accommodation, but we recommend The Shed, run by Kathleen Ireland. It's cosy, self-catering, chock-a-block with amenities, and shows what a brilliant architect can do with a modest amount of space. ( As for the extraordinary, 3-day conference on Rae, it ended last night with a banquet at the Stromness Hotel. The climactic event of the evening was a performance by renowned musician Jennifer Wrigley, who played what was once John Rae's fiddle. That moment I would characterize with a single word: magic.

Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.