Celebrating the life of famed community man, Vern Brown

Lisa Goudy
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Joan Brown described her late husband Vernon Robert Brown as the “original entrepreneur.”

“He just was a man that gave and you’d never even know it. He just did things,” she said. “It’s unreal. He just did so much.”

Vern died on March 16 at age 88 at Providence Place. Born in Creelman, Sask., Vern had lived in Moose Jaw since 1950.

Upon arriving in Moose Jaw, at age 25, he was one of the two auctioneers hired by the Moose Jaw stockyards to help establish the first live cattle auction in Saskatchewan.

“His biggest attribute was his family and his love to this community. He grew up in Regina, but he loved Moose Jaw,” said Vern’s son, Scott. “He became the most successful auctioneer in the country.”

While working as an auctioneer at the stockyards, he set up his own auction business. His business, Vern Brown’s Fine Furniture and Auction, was located for many years at 60 River St. E.

“He’d come home and he’d say to me, or he’d phone and say, ‘I’ve got to see Mr. Jones. He’s going to have a farm sale and I want to go out and have a look at how things are and tell him what to do,’” recalled Joan. “He always wanted us to be with him as much as he could.”

In 1996, he was named to the Auctioneers Hall of Fame in North Battleford.

Joan remembered helping out at the store with Vern after their children grew up.

“We used to go down to … Toronto and Montreal, to buy furniture for the store,” she said. “It was one of our wonderful times we had.”

Also during this time, Vern developed the north shore of Buffalo Pound Lake by selling lots and building a summer home where the Browns lived for 53 years.

“We had a corral and kept horses out there,” said Joan. “The kids all grew up at the lake.”

Vern Trail first met Vern when they were 16 years old.

“We were out at Caron airport during the war, spinning props or starting up planes. They called us junior engineers, but really we were just spinning props for airplanes,” said Vern.

They were in the navy for three and a half years. In Moose Jaw, both men were involved in the Moose Jaw Lions’ Club. Vern served as president in the early 1960s.

Some of the fondest memories Vern Trail has of him are the wagon trains.

“We did a lot of wagon trains together. That was a lot of fun,” said Vern. “He had horses and I had horses and he took his whole family out to wagon trains outside of Moose Jaw here, Gravelbourg around that area and we went down to Montana.”

He estimated each year there were 150 riders and 80 or 90 wagons on a weeklong adventure. In 1971, the provincial government asked Vern to organize the Saskatchewan Homecoming Wagon Train from Fort Qu’Appelle to Moose Jaw.

“We had a barrel of fun,” said Vern. “I’ll miss his smiling face and the fun we had. The whole town will miss him. There’s no question about that. He was a very popular guy.”

Lyle Philips first met Vern years ago through mutual friends.

“We had some good times together out at the lake. We only lived five cottages apart on the north side. So we used to go back and forth quite a bit and we used to hunt together the odd time and go to social events,” said Lyle.

He added he’s going to miss getting together with Vern and Joan.

“In the later years after we stopped going out New Year’s Eve to various events, he would often host a party and we’d be there for New Year’s Eve with a lot of other friends,” said Lyle. “He was just one of those guys that’s very easy to be with.”

Vern also helped establish John Chisholm School.

“Because my brother is mentally handicapped, my dad was always interested in having … the John Chisholm School,” said Scott. “He put his effort and his money and his focus and everything into this school for handicapped children.”

Vern was involved in the federal Liberal party and ran and lost two federal elections. He did, however, sit down on policy discussions with former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and cabinet ministers.

In 1972, Vern won the Moose Jaw Citizen of the Year Award.

Times-Herald publisher Rob Clark knew Vern for a long time.

“Knowing the family for many years, I can say that Vern will missed in our community. I think is an understatement, to talk about all his accomplishments, contributions and the memories I have, there’s just not enough time,” he said. “He’s left an permanent mark on our community and will be missed.”

Joan said she and Vern had a fantastic life together. They went on many trips such as to Hawaii, Europe and on Caribbean cruises. Vern loved barbecuing and was known for his famous brisket with special garlic bread and roast beef.

“People today, it doesn’t matter who you meet,” said Joan. “They remember Vern.”

A celebration of his life will be held at St. Joseph’s Church, 1064 Third Ave. N.W. on May 22 at 1:30 p.m.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: John Chisholm School

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Providence Place Creelman Regina 60 River St. North Battleford Toronto Montreal Buffalo Pound Lake Montana Fort Qu’Appelle Hawaii Europe Caribbean Joseph

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