Friday, October 31, 2014

Is Mount Royal University ready for this?


This may or may not be a photo of Mount Royal University. Guaranteed: it IS a photo taken within a couple of hundred kilometres of that august institution. The rationale? Our Hero will get out into these hilly environs next March, after spending a week at MRU as writer-in-residence. He just signed a contract, undertaking to give at least one public presentation during that sojourn. More details will surface in the new year. So people have time to gird their loins. But here's why now: we're sitting at 99,876 page views. No big deal in the scheme of things, I know. But it's a minor milestone. And if you've read this far, you've already done your bit to get us to 100,000. So thanks for that. Hope to see you next March. 
Next morning: you did it! Thanks for showing up!

Monday, October 6, 2014

John Rae sweeps Our Hero into the Polish Times

You can read the whole story of John Rae at Westminster Abbey by clicking here -- but only if you read Polish. Me, I can read, in the highlight paragraph, not just my own name but the book title Fatal Passage. I find this noteworthy because we have two grandchildren, ages five and two, who speak excellent Polish (for their ages). Or so I am told. Here you go . . .
We wtorek w Kaplicy św. Jana Ewangelisty w opactwie westminsterskim odsłonięty zostanie kamień upamiętniający Rae. Jako symbol pojednania kamień umieszczono pod wielkim popiersiem Franklina. W uroczystości wezmą udział zarówno potomkowie Rae, jak i Franklina, a także Ken McGoogan, autor książki "Fatal Passage", która przyczyniła się do przywrócenia szkockiemu odkrywcy należnej mu chwały. Wielebny John Hall, opat Westminster, przyznał, że ma nadzieję, że kamień zakończy dysputę. - Cieszymy się na to pojednanie - powiedział. Dodał, że spodziewa się "ożywionych debat" na temat tego, który z podróżników jako pierwszy przepłynął Przejście Północno-Zachodnie. W tej dyskusji opactwo nie opowie się po żadnej ze stron.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Orcadian poet commemorates John Rae's arrival at Westminster



After the dedication ceremony at Westminster Abbey, back at the Scottish office in Dover House,  Orcadian poet Harvey Johnston read a wonderful, Burnsian poem entitled Rae in the Abbey. He graciously agreed to let me publish part of it. The final four stanzas run as follows. I have no photo of Johnston, but the above image of Our Hero captures the spirit of the thing:



Cheust like the Cree and Inuit
He’d grown tae understand
Ye work wi’ watter, wind and wave
Tae live aff sea and land.
 

Wi’ snowshoes, long strides and a gun
Up North wi’ dog and sledge
He learned the fate o’ Franklin
Bae the cruel Arctic’s edge.

And on he strode tae find the strait
Weel named on maps ye view
The final strait Amundsen sailed
The North West Passage through.

Wan hunder noo, and sixty years
Hiv passed by since that day
High time indeed, that in This Place
We mark the name of Rae.