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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Courtenay resident labours to remove the snow build-up from around her car in February 2019. The area may see snow throughout the coming weekend. Black Press file photo
Snow, winter not done with the Comox Valley quite yet

Flurries, snow and cold temps predicted for the weekend

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

This spring will be a time of transition for Island Voices chamber… Continue reading

From left—Rev. Ryan Slifka (minister, St. George’s); Ellen Wise (elder, St. George’s); Evangeline Mathura, (vice-president, Dawn to Dawn); Grant Shilling (outreach worker, Dawn to Dawn), with a cheque for $10,433.15.
Courtenay church donates more than $10,000 to transitional housing and support service

St. Goerge’s presents Dawn to Dawn with $10,433.15 cheque

A pine siskin is treated for salmonella poisoning at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) hospital, in Merville. Photo by Gylaine Anderston.
Salmonella poisoning in birds and pets a result of unclean bird feeders

Have you ever endured a bout of food poisoning? If you remember… Continue reading

Inside the new shop operated by Wachiay Friendship Centre. Jared Kotyk (left), Jan Kotyk, Paloma Joy, Tim Gagnon, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Corbett and Tally, the shop dog. Photo supplied
Wachiay opens store-front arts shop in downtown Courtenay

There’s still tailor-work in the back of old AnnSew site, with the store in front

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from CFB Comox was tasked to assist Arrowsmith Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) in extracting an injured hiker off of Mount Arrowsmith on Jan. 17. Photo by Capt.Reg Reimer
442 Transport and Rescue Squadron assists in Mount Arrowsmith rescue

“The turbulent conditions … made the hoisting quite challenging.”

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Most Read