City of Burnaby
From the Heart
+ About the multimedia project
+ Biographies and interview excerpts
+ Sample videos
+ War memorabilia
+ Interactive games
+ Links
+ Purchase support material
+ Credits
general audience
elementary school level
secondary school level


Donald Neil Brown | The Freeman Legacy

Donald Neil Brown

At an age when most of us are ready to sit back and reflect on our life goals, Donald Brown, in his mid-80s, can add "author" to his impressively long list of achievements, having recently completed a history of the BC Provincial Police (now part of the RCMP) called Why? The Last Years of the British Columbia Police 1858 - 2000.

Brown's life of service to country and community began on Sept. 8, 1939. Just a year away from completing his senior matriculation, he left school to join the Royal Canadian Engineers. Two days later, a special session of Parliament approved Prime Minister Mackenzie King's request that Canada declare war on Germany. Soon after, Don was shipped overseas with the Third Contingent of Canadian Troops. Serving with the Royal Canadian Engineers' 12th Field Company, he saw action in Sicily and Italy.

In 1945, with the war over, Brown completed high school, and a year of university studies. Re-enlisting in the army as a Second Lieutenant, he spent the next two years stationed in Chilliwack with his wife Helen, his high school sweetheart, and their first child. Two years later he left the army to join the British Columbia Provincial Police force, which was absorbed by the RCMP in 1950.

Over the course of a distinguished 35-year career with the armed forces and the police, Brown became an expert in cases involving forged art works and documents, counterfeiting, and handwriting identification. His list of awards and citations include the Meritorious Service Award (BCPP, 1950), the Commissioner's Commendation (RCMP, 1951), and the Canadian Centennial Medal (1967).

Following his retirement from the police force, he carried on with his work in private practice. As a forensic consultant, he has worked on more than 2,000 cases involving 18,000 documents. His expertise has led to associations with forensic sciences societies across North America, where he is a Fellow (Emeritus) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a Life Member (Emeritus) and past Director of the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, among other honours.

In 1978 Brown became involved with municipal politics, first as a Burnaby School Trustee, then as an Alderman, serving Burnaby until 1985. In addition, he has been involved with several other civic organizations, including the Burnaby Historical Society, the Arts Council, and the Community College for the Retired. In 1991, he was appointed chair of the Burnaby Centennial Committee. Both Brown and his wife were named Citizens of the Year in 1992. A year later, Brown was named a Freeman of the City of Burnaby, the city's highest honour.

Brown died on May 16, 2009. Veterans Affairs Canada - Anciens Combattants Canada Burnaby School District - SD41