James ('Jas') N. J. Brown was reputedly born under a pine tree near Lillooet en route to the Empire Valley in south-central B.C. His father was a prospector named Brown and his mother was possibly an Aboriginal. He grew up in the Lillooet area and published a short-lived first newspaper (circa 1885. He won B.C.'s first single scull championship in 1908. Brown published Prospector's Trail: Poems (1941) and The Prospector's Guide (1941), a how-to book, prior to his death in Vancouver in 1942. In his Prospector's Trail, a copy of which can be found at UBC Special Collections, Brown refers to a preceding collection of verse called Western Fragments.

A foreword to Prospector's Trail by journalist Noel Robinson states, "J.N.J. Brown (known to his friends as Jim) spent his early life in the wildly beautiful environment of Dog Creek and Empire Valley in the Cariboo country of British Columbia.... He is one of the old school of prospectors, and he has retained his optimism and his belief that some day, somehow, he would 'strike it rich'--which he never did. Now and again he has lived in Vancouver and North Vancouver.... His writing periodically appeared in both Vancouver and the Cariboo." If Brown was indeed Métis, as has been suggested, there is no indication of that lineage in his poetry that primarily celebrates nature.


Brown, J.N.J. Western Fragments (n.d.)
Brown, J.N.J. Prospector's Trail: Poems (Lillooet Publishers Ltd., 1941).
Brown, J.N.J. The Prospector's Guide: Hints to Prospectors and General Information for the Practical Miner (Lillooet Publishers Ltd., 1941).

[BCBW 2004]