By Cam Fortems, Kamloops This Week
Call it the treasure of the Bushman.
A retired Kelowna private investigator is listing for sale a file of poems, a court transcript and photos from the infamous Bushman of the Shuswap, the fugitive who eluded frustrated Mounties more than a decade ago.
“I put them in a binder,” Rob Nicolson said of a file he kept on John Bjornstrom, dubbed the Bushman of the Shuswap. “I moved and was going through my stuff and said “OK . . .”
Bjornstrom escaped from what was then the Rayleigh prison camp in late 2000.
He plundered cabins and evaded police for more than a year. He arranged for interviews with reporters and called radio stations. But, his fixation with fame eventually led to his downfall when RCMP, posing as a documentary crew, arrested him in November 2001.
Nicholson listed for sale on Kijiji a number of documents obtained from what he said was his work as a private investigator for Bjornstrom.
Those include a transcript of court proceedings, Bjornstrom’s statement to RCMP in Salmon Arm, a letter to the RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner and a letter regarding the Bre-X fraud — the latter part of the Bushman’s fixation that he was being pursued by operatives from the mining company.
Also part of the package are photos of the Bushman’s hideaway in the woods near Sicamous — “taken by John himself,” the ad states.
The hideaway, inside an abandoned mine shaft, was equipped with a generator, washing machine, computer and other appliances.
Nicolson said Bjornstrom gave him the documents to keep after he was sentenced.
“He wanted me to keep a copy of everything that was going on.”
Bjornstrom was eventually given a 23-month conditional sentence on charges that included break and enter, uttering threats and extortion.
Last year, Bjornstrom re-emerged in the news as a mayoral candidate in his home community of Williams Lake and lost to Walt Cobb.
Nicolson said he doesn’t know the value of the items and is open to serious offers. He said a documentary crew offered $5,000 for the material “when it was still hot in the media.” But, Nicolson added, he was wary of legislation preventing criminals from profiting from their notoriety.
He said he advertised the items in hopes a new offer might come forward.
“I thought someone might want to write a book — or maybe someone whose cabin he broke into.”