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John Quentin Brown fonds. Additions

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Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 20-006

Title

John Quentin Brown fonds. Additions. -- 1926-2005. -- 12 cm of textual records; ca. 80 photographs

BIOGRAPHY / HISTORY

John Quentin Brown (Quentin), (1919-2006), U.E.L., was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Newton H. Brown and Grace Amanda Young, U.E.L. He worked for the Fairchild Aircraft Company between May 1939 and December 1941. In 1941, he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR). On active duty, Quentin served in Prince Rupert on HMCS French, on HMCS Malpeque and on HMCS Ontario demobilizing in December 1945. Correspondence from the War years exchanged between Quentin, his brother Robert and his sister Elizabeth is found in the book The Army's Mister Brown: A Family Trilogy 1941-1952, compiled by Elizabeth, Robert and Quentin in 1982; another brother, Harcourt Brown, was editor. After returning from War, Quentin earned a B.A. from McGill University in 1946 and a M.A. in dramatic art from the University of North Carolina in 1948. He married Myrtle Louise Stumberg of Alabama 28 August 1948 and together they had four children. Quentin worked in Ottawa at Crawley Films for 11 years. He moved to Boston and worked for the Educational Development Centre for 10 years where his main contribution was as producer of the Netsilik Eskimo film series—innovative films that focused on close portrayals of Indigenous people living in their own settings, with Inuit dialogue, and without English-speakers and talking heads. He also held a position at the University of Manitoba as Director of Instructional Media for seven years. In 1976, he moved to the Peterborough area where he was a researcher, amateur historian and writer; he was the editor of This Green and Pleasant Land: Chronicles of Cavan Township produced by the Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society in 1990. For a number of years, Quentin volunteered at Trent University Archives and was an active member of the Friends of the Bata Library at Trent.

Scope and Content

Fonds includes letters between John Quentin Brown and family members and photographs primarily of Quentin and his immediate family. Also included is a copy of The Army’s Mister Brown: A Family Trilogy, 1941-1952.

NOTES

Custodial History: Fonds was in the custody of Jennifer S.H. Brown before being donated to Trent University Archives in 2020. The items in this fonds were gathered and preserved first by Harcourt Brown, Quentin’s eldest brother, and then by Jennifer S.H. Brown, Harcourt’s daughter and Quentin’s niece.

Title based on the contents of the fonds.

Condition: Good

Immediate source: Fonds acquired from Jennifer S.H. Brown in 2020.

Fonds arrangement: This fonds is arranged as received. Folder labels and textual descriptions of the contents as provided by the donor have been maintained as well.

Accruals: This fonds is an addition to 92-014.

For related records see: 00-1002, 01-1013, 01-006, 98-1001, 99-1002, 01-1015, 90-011, and 95-002; Isolated Manuscripts #3 & #21

Restrictions: N

Finding Aid: Y

General Notes: We wish to acknowledge with thanks the work of Professor Jennifer Brown in providing a detailed file list and description of this fonds; this information facilitated the creation of the finding aid.

Finding Aid

Box 1

Folder

1. Letters from Quentin to his father, Newton Brown,1935-1938
Letters (24) from school (Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY); from jobs at summer camps and later in New York City; and from Montreal (staying with elder brother Egerton and family) where Quentin entered McGill University in 1937 as a freshman. Also, notices, report cards, etc., from Friends Academy.

2. Letters from Quentin to eldest brother Harcourt Brown, 1926-1941., etc.
Childhood writings, and letters from Friends Academy. Also, correspondence from Newton and Harcourt Brown to the head of Friends Academy about Quentin’s application and admission to the school, 1934. Harcourt (residing in New York City) had proctored college entrance examinations at the school, and thought it well suited for Quentin, whose home life was under stress because of his mother’s severe illness (she died Sept. 1934). Pictures, school essay.

3. Letters from Quentin to Harcourt Brown, and a few to “Dad” (d. 1946), 1941-1950
Work experiences; descriptions of serving on minesweeper in Canadian navy (see book cited above); postwar activities, meeting and marrying wife Louise; birth announcement of daughter Grace (the first of four children). Newspaper clippings.

4. Letters from Quentin (and Louise) to brother Robert (Bob) Brown (and wife Betsy), 1942-1958
One 1942 item, one 1947 from Chapel Hill, NC, and 1948 from Montreal. Starting work for Crawley Films, “Film Producers for Industry, Government, Education, Television”: four letters. Nine letters, 1955-1958: family news, and news on Quentin’s work with Crawley Films.   

5. Letters from Quentin to brother Egerton Brown (and Hazel), 1929, 1942-1949
1929 (one letter); 1942-49 Quentin in Navy service, junior officer training, travel, west coast, east coast, air letters from England, numerous details. Egerton looking after Quentin’s finances. 1946-47: Quentin at Chapel Hill, NC; writing plays—one to be produced. 1949: letter of thanks for wedding gift.

6. Egerton Brown to Quentin, 1934-1948
Twelve letters, most from siblings to Quentin say little about Quentin’s doings, but Egerton’s letters shed light on Quentin’s studies, wartime work, etc., and reflect their relations. Egerton was the older brother closest to him in this period, and an important advisor and supporter. Egerton’s career was with Sun Life Insurance Company, Montreal. 

7. Quentin (and Louise) to Harcourt Brown; one from Harcourt, 1951-1958. Eight letters.
Family news, births and growth of four children. Of special note: Quentin to Harcourt, 13 July 1958, two typed pages thinking about job and career change, reflections on Crawley Films, seeking advice. Harcourt’s reply: four typed pages of thoughts, ideas, and advice.
Photograph of first three children: Grace aged 5, Byron aged 3, Conrad aged 1.

8. Quentin (and Louise) to Harcourt Brown, 1962-1970, with few copies of Harcourt to Quentin.
About 20 items relating to family, moves, etc.; Christmas letters. In January 1963 occurred the last reunion of Quentin and his four siblings in New York as they saw sister Elizabeth depart to be head of Foster Parents Plan in Saigon, Vietnam. Quentin’s words on that occasion are included. Then, moving from Ottawa to Wellesley Hills, MA, Quentin began working for Educational Services Incorporated as coordinating producer for social science films. Most notably, he was producer of the Netsilik Eskimo series, filmed 1963-65 (nine films distributed 1967). Article by Quentin and Asen Balikci (reprint from ESI Quarterly Report) is included in this file.
In summer 1969, Quentin and family moved to Winnipeg, MB and his new position as director of the Instructional Media Centre, University of Manitoba (see IMC brochure included here).
From that summer on, Quentin and Harcourt were discussing Manitoba as a possible home for papers of their grandfather, Rev. Egerton R. Young, who had worked as Methodist missionary at Norway House and Berens River, MB. (Note: one notebook by Egerton containing Norway House Cree language and word lists was given by Harcourt to the UM Library. Eventually, in 2019, Jennifer Brown organized all remaining Egerton Young family papers preserved by Harcourt and others for deposit in the United Church of Canada Archives in Toronto, to join the Egerton Young fonds already existing there.) 

9. Quentin to Harcourt, 1971-1979.  
Thirty items; Christmas letters. Family news. New job at University of Manitoba proving a challenge—short of funding: It “totters along with sketchy ups and downs, and one tries to be optimistic. But it’s not easy” (Feb. 17, 1972). Plans for visit of Harcourt and Dorothy, Wilson, Jennifer, and Matthew Brown to Winnipeg, July; ideas for Norway House visit (where Egerton Young served, 1868-1873), summer 1972. Discussions of Egerton Young’s books and papers, again where to deposit papers. Summer 1976: Quentin leaves Manitoba job, he and Louise to rural acreage, Millbrook, ON, aims to write plays, scripts. Gardening, enjoying woods, improving house and property, heating with wood, etc. Situation of sister Elizabeth, moving from Providence, 1976, to apartment in Toronto.

10. Quentin to Harcourt Brown, 1980-1982
Approximately ten letters from Quentin at Millbrook, plus Christmas letters, some copies of letters from Harcourt. Discussions of Harcourt’s home and caregiver problems; Quentin’s activities; then about family papers and Harcourt’s developing plans for a book publishing letters among Quentin, Elizabeth Brown, and Robert Brown during World War II and after: See The Army’s Mister Brown: A Family Trilogy 1941-1952, published 1982, and Quentin’s design for the cover.

11. Quentin to Harcourt Brown, with numerous copies of Harcourt to Quentin, 1983-1984.
High Meadow and family news, Christmas letters, Ellen Brown’s poetry book, Quentin’s (and Harcourt’s) work on family genealogy, notes and queries on family memories; Quentin’s stamp collecting. Discussions of sister Elizabeth Brown’s health, papers, writings.

12. Quentin to niece Jennifer Brown, husband Wilson, son Matthew, 1970-1989.
About twenty items, family and High Meadow news, notes on visits, etc. Note that in 1985, Harcourt moved to Winnipeg to live with Jennifer and Wilson Brown.

13. Quentin to ibid., 1990-2005.
Ibid. About 20 items.

14. Quentin to Harcourt Brown, 1987-1990; copies of a few items from Harcourt.
About 20 items. Quentin’s work on Cavan Twp., This Green and Pleasant Land, published 1990 by the Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society. Family news. Decline and passing of sister Elizabeth in Peterborough. Discussions of Harcourt’s ideas, efforts for family history and biography; his health, 90th birthday, May 30. (He died in Winnipeg in November 1990.)    

15. Quentin and Louise, Christmas letters, 1985-2004.
Some letters have added handwritten notes and news; these provide a good overview of Quentin Brown’s biography, life in Winnipeg, then in Millbrook, Peterborough, 1976-2006.

16. Quentin to Harcourt Brown, 1985-1987.
With copies of some letters from Harcourt. Work on Brown family history; Elizabeth Brown’s memories and health, etc.

17. Photographs of Quentin and family, 1920-1980s. (See also a few photographs in the early files.) A few portraits, wedding photos, and numerous snapshots, mostly including Quentin.

Copy of Harcourt Brown, ed., The Army’s Mister Brown, cited above.

 

Appendix

Persons mentioned, and their relation to John Quentin Brown

  • Father: Newton Harcourt Brown (1874-946)
  • “Amy,” “Auntie Gar,” Mrs. Rankin: Newton Brown’s second wife
  • Grandfather: Dr. John Price Brown (1844-1938)
  • Mother: Grace Young Brown (1876-1934)
  • Eldest brother, Harcourt Brown (1900-1990), m. Dorothy Elizabeth Stacey (1902-1986)
  • “Mrs. Stacey”: Dorothy’s mother, Pearl Stacey (1878-1964)
  • Second brother: Egerton (‘Ton’) Brown (1904-1998), m. Hazel F.L. Killingsworth (1904-1991)
  • Egerton’s offspring: Barbara, Egerton (“Ted”), Judy.
  • Third brother: Robert Brown (1906-1972). First wife: Clare. Second wife: Betsy. No children.
  • Sister: A. Elizabeth (Beth or Betty) Brown (1902-1989). Not married.
  • Wife: Louise Stumberg Brown (1921-2008). Children: Grace, Byron, Conrad, Julie.
  • Andrew Kemp-King, son of Paul, English cousin descended from Lillian Young Helme.
  • Rev. Egerton R. Young (1840-1909): grandfather to Quentin and siblings, Methodist missionary.
  • Jennifer S.H. Brown: Harcourt Brown’s daughter, b. 1940.
  • Wilson Brown: Harcourt Brown’s son-in-law.