A Time of Change Painting and Photos by Bern Will Brown


Bern Will Brown came north in 1948 as a young Roman Catholic missionary. As “Father Brown” he served his church and parishioners in almost every part of the Northwest Territories.

In addition to his religious duties, Father Brown performed routine medical work such as delivering babies, sewing up axe cuts and pulling teeth. He has also been a fire warden, dogcatcher, storekeeper, postmaster, and newspaper editor.

In 1962 Father Brown was sent to Colville Lake, only a short distance north of the Arctic Circle, in the traditional homeland of the Hareskin Dene. On the shore of the lake he planned and built a log church, “Our Lady of the Snows”, in what was soon a growing community of log buildings. Although he left the priesthood in 1971, Bern Will Brown and his wife Margaret still live in Colville Lake, where they operate a lodge they built beside the church.

Reflecting back on his life in the Preface to Arctic Journal, the first volume of his two-part autobiography, Bern Will Brown remarks “I had no idea that the northern scene would change so rapidly, so drastically”.

Fortunately, throughout his time in the north, Bern Will Brown recorded the places where he lived and traveled, and the people he came to know, in photographs, on film and in his paintings.

“A Time of Change – Paintings and Photographs by Bern Will Brown” presents a small selection of Bern Will Brown’s images. Each piece in this exhibit provides a window to times that have changed as the north rushes towards the future.

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre extends thanks to the following for assisting with this exhibit:

Coril Holdings, Ltd.
Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly
Fran Hurcomb
Constance Martin

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada