History up in smoke
Journals destroyed by thieves

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

COLVILLE LAKE (Oct 25/99) - A precious bit of Northern history has been destroyed.

Bern Will Brown returned to Colville Lake after a month's vacation to discover that the journals he had been keeping since 1948 had been destroyed.

After attending his 60th high school reunion in Rochester, New York, and visiting his book publisher in Ottawa, Brown returned to Colville Lake only to discover he'd been burgled.

Some youths broke into the mission building by breaking the front window and opening the door.

They then went into Brown's office and picked up his 68-kilogram safe thinking that it had money in it.

They dragged the safe to a log cabin in town, broke it open with an axe, burned the journals and then threw the safe in the lake.

"Oh boy, that's a big loss," Brown said.

"If it was money it could have been replaced maybe, but not the books."

Brown said police have charged two suspects in relation to the case.

If there is any consolation, it is that Brown had completed the second volume of his Arctic Journal from the now-burned journals.

"Thank God I was able to use those journals in the preparation of my book because if they had been burned before I wrote the book I wouldn't have been able to write it, that's all," he said.

"It's ironic because I bought the safe to keep the journals in, in case the mission burned down. And just the opposite happened. The mission didn't burn down, but the contents of the safe did."

Brown's Arctic Journal Volume 2 will be released next month. His publisher, Ottawa-based Novalis, printed 2,000 copies of the first volume so Brown guessed that the second volume will likely also have a run of 2,000.

"The first volume has been sold out and they're in the process of reprinting it."