‘Downtown Patrick Brown’: Reflecting on the life of a ‘mightily generous’ man

Brown passed away Saturday, leaving a legacy of kindness behind

Colourful character spread kindness throughout St. John’s.

Kyle Mooney

Kathie Hicks, CEO and co-owner of Spirit of Newfoundland Productions, said Patrick Brown will be remembered for his kindness. Courtesy of Kathie Hicks.
Kathie Hicks, CEO and co-owner of Spirit of Newfoundland Productions, said Patrick Brown will be remembered for his kindness. Courtesy of Kathie Hicks.

From the Basilica to The Rooms to Cabot Tower, St. John’s has no shortage of fixtures. But this weekend, the city’s downtown lost one of its most notable.

Patrick Brown, whose snow white hair and distinct headwear made him stand out in the colourful downtown streets, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 5. (The cause of death had not been reported at the time of publication.)

As news spread over the weekend, musicians, restaurant owners and others remembered the man known for his poster-plastering skills, handcrafted wire sculptures and kindness of heart. 

John LeDrew was one of them. He first met Brown at the Gathering Place on Military Road, where the two would often go for meals.

“I can’t believe he’s gone. He was in great health too. I don’t understand,” LeDrew said, adding he’d never seen Brown drive a car. “He was always walking around everywhere.”

As was his custom, Brown gave LeDrew a wire sculpture spelling his first name (“He only did first names,” LeDrew said). He cherishes the gift to this day.

“He made one for me, one for my mom,” he said. “The lettering and all that, he did it perfectly.” 

Don Maher, owner of the Black Sheep on George, was one of many to receive a personalized wire sculpture from Patrick Brown. Courtesy of Don Maher.

In addition to his talents, LeDrew said one of the things he remembers most distinctly about Brown was his disdain for litter.

“I’d bump into him on the street, he’d see a bit of garbage, pick it up and throw it in the garbage can,” LeDrew said. “He was not a fan of littering.”

But most importantly, LeDrew remembers his spirit: ‘Kind,’ ‘pleasant,’ and ‘polite’ are three adjectives he uses to describe it.

“I don’t think anybody would have anything bad to say about him. I don’t they could if they tried,” LeDrew said. “I never saw him say an impolite thing to anyone.”

In a Facebook post following his death, Dawn Emberley, owner of Zachary’s restaurant, said Patrick Brown came in every day for 26 years. Kyle Mooney/Kicker

A ‘mightily generous’ man

Like many in St. John’s, Kathie Hicks, co-owner and CEO of Spirit of Newfoundland, remembers Brown for his poster-plastering, litter-collecting and handcrafting skills.

But there’s one anecdote in particular that she said illustrates Brown’s character best.

“Even though he was a Gathering Place guest often, he was mightily generous,” she said.

“He received a revenue Canada check a couple of years ago. It was some correction he didn’t know about. If anyone could use the money it was him—or so we thought,” she said.

“He took a little baby piece of that money and then sent every bit of it to family. It was incredible,” she said. “He simply said he didn’t need it.”

At the time of writing, no information was available regarding Brown’s cause of death. Details about any ceremonies marking his passing have yet to be released. 

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