A brass plaque that commemorates the short life of a well-loved Nordegg man has gone missing — and friends fear it was stolen for cash.
When Brent Young, a popular local hostel manager, died in a skiing accident in May 2011 at the age of 39, Alberta’s outdooring community was left bereft.
“At a memorial that was held for Brent in Nordegg, (former hostel) guests came from all across Alberta. . . . He just had this good spirit” that attracted people, said Young’s buddy and former co-worker Nathan Ambler.
Grieving friends mounted a brass plaque in Young’s memory at a particularly scenic spot on Abraham Lake that the deceased man had loved. Until recently, that memorial could be seen on the lakeshore, just a short walk from the Windy Point parking lot, off Hwy 11 about 30 km west of Nordegg.
But on Aug. 19, Ambler received a call from a friend who couldn’t find the plaque when he stopped at the site earlier that day.
At first, Ambler thought someone had unbolted the memorial from the rock to have it fixed. But it turned out that none of Young’s friends knew what had happened to it.
The last time the plaque was seen at the site was Aug. 16.
Someone suggested to Ambler that it could have been targeted by thieves for sale at a scrap yard. But the idea that someone would try to make a few bucks off a memorial sickens him. “I was just shocked. . . . The ironic thing is that we put (the plaque) there so it would be accessible. We thought of taking it higher into the mountains but we thought more people would see it if it was closer to the highway.”
Metal dealers in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton have been alerted to watch for the plaque, which states “In Loving Memory of Brent Young ‘Shakakan Brother’ 1972-2011.”
Ambler urges anyone who’s seen anything suspicious at Windy Point between Aug. 16 and 19 to contact Rocky RCMP.
Young was originally from Ontario, but travelled extensively, including to Australia and Nepal, before taking a job at the Nordegg youth hostel, where he was manager from 2006 to the time of his death. Ambler said Young died of injuries and hypothermia after falling into a deep crevasse while back-country skiing with friends on the Columbia Icefields last year.
The group of experienced skiers were not roped together at the time when he fell. His companions attempted a rescue, but their rope was too short and couldn’t reach him.
A friend later skied down to get help from Jasper Park rangers. While Young was airlifted to the University of Alberta Hospital, he didn’t survive the accident.
Anyone with information about the plaque can also call Ambler in Edmonton at 780-918-6542.