John Lambert Bjornstrom, the Bushman of the Shuswap, while he was on the run from police near his main camp close to Shuswap Lake. -Observer file photo

‘Bushman of the Shuswap’ fugitive John Bjornstorm dies at 58

Bjornstrom made the news when he escaped from a jail, evaded police capture for nearly two years

John Bjornstorm, who became infamous roughly 20 years ago as the Bushman of the Shuswap, has died.

An obituary published in the Williams Lake Tribune states Bjornstrom died suddenly Jan. 13 at the age of 58.

Bjornstrom made the news two decades ago when he escaped from a jail near Kamloops and evaded police capture for nearly two years while living in wilderness areas of the Shuswap. He developed a series of camps and stole supplies from the many cabins in the areas between the North Shuswap, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.

His brazen attempts to contact the media and share his story while still being hunted by police gained him national media exposure, but the continual thefts, bizarre letters he left at cabins and attempts to extort good from property owners sparked anger among area residents. He also frustrated police in an number of attempts to recapture him.

Bjornstrom took photos of some of his lairs, including an underground cave which he equipped with a generator to allow for the use of a computer, and a tree house so he could get a view of the area and avoid detection.

While a fugitive, Bjornstrom didn’t shy away from the spotlight. In 2001, he allowed reporters, including one from the Salmon Arm Observer, to meet him one night in a remote area on the shore of Shuswap Lake to interview him.

Bjornstrom made a series of claims about why he had escaped from jail, saying his life was threatened because of his knowledge of information regarding the fraudulent Bre-X gold mining operations. He also claimed to want to expose a child pornography ring, he says, involving citizens at the highest level of politics, medicine and the judiciary.

He also claimed to have psychic abilities and said he could see auras around individuals that would give him information about their character.

But his love of the media attention proved to be the undoing of his “wilderness life.” Less than a month after being interviewed, Bjornstrom was caught by RCMP officers who posed as a documentary film crew wanting to do a story about him.

He was arrested and eventually served an additional sentence of 23-months house arrest. While awaiting trial, he continued to contact the Observer from jail, sending letters and poems and making phone calls during which he continued to advocate for this theories about organized crime and pornography rings operating in the area.

Following this, Bjornstrom did step away from the spotlight. He returned to Williams Lake and a career as a truck driver. He also drove a limousine. In 2014, Bjornstrom made an unsuccessful bid to become the mayor of Williams Lake.

READ MORE: Bushman eyes Williams Lake mayor’s chair

His obituary says he was well loved by many in that community.

“John brought a smile with him everywhere he went and always had a joke to share. John was selfless when it came to his many friends at the Salvation Army Drop In Center, often running a coffee tab for everyone who visited for the day.

John was a friend of The Salvation Army, and loved to dress up as Santa Claus for the community Christmas dinners.”

A celebration of life is planned for Bjornstrom at the Salvation Army Church in Williams Lake on Feb. 18.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Snowfall’s timing perfect for young sledders

Langley kids made the most of a district-wide pro-d day on Friday

Langley work crews prep for significant dump of snow

Work underway to keep roads as clear and safe as possible

Rivermen’s Bernard a nominee for top d-man

Langley’s Colin Bernard has been a steadying presence on Rivermen blue-line

TransLink says 28 new Skytrain cars to arrive early

The cars for the Expo and Millennium lines will now be delivered three years earlier

UPDATE: 10-20 cm of snow expected Friday in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning in effect from North Shore mountains out to Hope

Therapy dogs make appearance at B.C. Games

The St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program launches a pilot project at the 2018 Kamloops B.C. Winter Games

Canucks fold 5-3 in first ever trip to Vegas

Daniel Sedin had two points as Canucks fall to the Golden Knights Friday night

That’s a wrap: B.C. Games results after Day 1

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 is in the lead for medals Friday at the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

A B.C. woman talks her life in the sex trade

A view into the life from one Kelowna prostitute and the issues it can cause for women

Twitter feed prays for — instead of preying on — B.C. MLAs

Non-partisan Christian group wants to support politicians through personalized prayer

Guards hold noon-hour protest over prison safety

Number of inmates, attacks on officers, increasing says union

UPDATE: At least two hospitalized after plane leaves runway at Abbotsford Airport

Incident occurred around noon on Friday; Transport Canada investigating

Most Read