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.
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.
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
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.
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:
Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly