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The Adventures of Kootenai Brown

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Perhaps best remembered today as the major impetus behind the founding of Waterton Lakes National Park, John George “Kootenai” Brown was one of Western Canada’s greatest frontiersmen. In 1839, Brown was born into a long line of Scotch-English military men in County Clare, Ireland. He lost his parents shortly thereafter in the Great Irish Famine and was raised by his paternal grandmother. When he was eighteen years old, the Irishman joined the ranks of the British Army and sailed to India to quell the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Having gained an appetite for adventure that would not be satiated by British military life, Brown left the Old World for the New, never to return. His subsequent adventures on the Canadian and American frontier include:

  • Travelling across Panama and north up the Pacific Northwest
  • Prospecting for gold in the Cariboo Rush of 1860’s
  •  Working as a law enforcer in the gold rush at Wild Horse Creek, British Columbia
  •  Leaving the goldfields of the Rocky Mountains for the infamous whiskey trade of the Canadian prairies
  • Escaping a war party of marauding Blackfoot braves near Medicine Hat, Alberta
  •  Surviving an Indian shootout at Portage la Prairie
  •  Riding in North Dakota for the Pony Express- the dangerous American trans-continental courier service
  •  Narrowly escaping torture and death at the hands of Sitting Bull’s Sioux
  •  Hunting buffalo with the Metis of the Red River Valley
  •  Wolfing in Montana
  •  Dodging the hangman’s noose after a deadly altercation in Fort Benton, Montana
  •  Serving as Chief Scout for the Rocky Mountain Rangers during Louis Riel’s Northwest Rebellion
  • Fighting to preserve the natural beauty of the Waterton (formerly Kootenay/Kootenai) Lakes region in a rapidly-changing world

Click on the following pictures to learn more about the adventures of John “Kootenai” Brown.

 

Part 1- The Seven Seas

Kootenai Brown's early life in Ireland, service as a British Army officer in India and journey through Panama and the Pacific Northwest.

Kootenai Brown’s early life in Ireland, service as a British Army officer in India and journey through Panama and the Pacific Northwest.

 

Part 2- The Canadian Rockies

Kootenai Brown's prospecting, mining and trapping ventures in the Cariboo goldfields and his service as a Constable in Wild Horse Creek.

Kootenai Brown’s prospecting, mining and trapping ventures in the Cariboo goldfields and his service as a Constable in Wild Horse Creek.

 

Part 3- The Canadian Prairies

Kootenai Brown is wounded by the Blackfoot, winters with the Metis, joins the whiskey trade and has a shootout at Portage la Prairie.

Kootenai Brown is wounded by the Blackfoot, winters with the Metis, joins the whiskey trade and has a shootout at Portage la Prairie.

 

Part 4- The American Frontier

Kootenai Brown's introduction to the American Old West, his time riding for the Pony Express, and his capture by Hunkpapa Sioux chief Sitting Bull.

Kootenai Brown’s introduction to the American Old West, his time riding for the Pony Express, and his capture by Hunkpapa Sioux chief Sitting Bull.

 

Part 5- Living With The Metis

Kootenai Brown's three happy, carefree years living, hunting buffalo and wintering with Canadian French-Cree Metis from the Red River Valley.

Kootenai Brown’s three happy, carefree years living, hunting buffalo and wintering with Canadian French-Cree Metis from the Red River Valley.

 

Part 6- Fort Benton

Kootenai Brown's adventures at Fort Benton, Montana, including his year of wolfing, the murder of fur trader Louis Ell, and his brief incarceration.

Kootenai Brown’s adventures at Fort Benton, Montana, including his year of wolfing, the murder of fur trader Louis Ell, and his brief incarceration.

 

Part 7- Waterton Lakes

Kootenai Brown's settlement in the Kootenay (now Waterton) Lakes area, the birth of his legendary nickname, and the death of his Metis wife Olivia.

Kootenai Brown’s settlement in the Kootenay (now Waterton) Lakes area, the birth of his legendary nickname, and the death of his Metis wife Olivia.

 

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