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Kootenay Brown
Kootenai Brown leaning against an automobile in front of his cabin (3380765308).jpg
John George Brown

10 October 1839 (1839-10-10)
Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland
Died 18 July 1916 (1916-07-19) (aged 76)
Resting place Waterton Lakes, Alberta, Canada
Citizenship British, Canadian
Employer British government, Canadian government, self-employed
Known for Being a famous mountain men on the Canadian and American Western Frontier
Spouse(s) two wives; Metis wife and ?
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch  United Kingdom Army
Years of service 1857–1862
Rank commissioned officer
Unit King's 8th Regiment of Foot

John George Brown (10 October 1839 – 18 July 1916), better known as "Kootenai" Brown, was an Irish-born Canadian polymath, soldier, trader and conservation advocate.

Early life

John George Brown was born and educated in Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland. Brown was commissioned as a British Army officer in 1857 "without purchase" (a reference to the practise then common of wealthy Britons purchasing officers' commissions), joining the 8th Regiment as an ensign. After serving in India from 1858 to 1859, in 1862 he sold his commission and joined the flood of prospectors joining the Cariboo Gold Rush in British Columbia, Canada.


He proved unsuccessful as a prospector, turning to trapping and then briefly policing, serving as constable in Wild Horse Creek, British Columbia (now gone).

In 1865, he moved on, to Waterton Lakes , being wounded by a Blackfoot on his way to Fort Garry (now Winnipeg), where he settled and became a whisky trader.

Subsequent to that, he worked briefly for a company delivering mail to the United States Army until 1874, during which time he was captured and nearly killed by Sitting Bull in 1869.

After a quarrel (and obligatory gunfight) at Fort Benton, Montana, with "celebrated hunter" Louis Ell, in which Ell was killed, and subsequent trial and acquittal by a territorial jury, Brown returned to his beloved Kootenay, where he settled, building a reputation as a guide and packer.

Always arguing vigorously for the region's preservation, after the Kootenay Forest Reserve was established in 1895, Brown became a fishery officer and in 1910, a forest ranger.

He lived to see the reserve expanded into Waterton Lakes National Park, which became contiguous with Glacier National Park in Montana, in 1914.

Marriage and family

In 1869, Kootenay Brown married a local Metis woman and ultimately made a living bison hunting and wolfing.


Kootenay Brown died in Waterton Lakes, Alberta, Canada and was buried alongside his two wives.

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