Ottawa Citizen

Griev­ing fam­ily awaits bad news

Ot­tawa man be­lieved to have per­ished in cot­tage fire

- MEGHAN HUR­LEY

The par­ents of an Ot­tawa man have tried ev­ery­thing in their power to get their son’s dental records to con­firm what they al­ready know — it was the re­mains of their son found in the rub­ble of their burned out cot­tage last week­end.

“We tried ev­ery­thing we could to have that hap­pen,” said Brian Brace­land. “We need fi­nal­ity. We need some re­lease. We need some com­fort.”

His son, Michael Brace­land, 37, went to the fam­ily’s Madawaska Val­ley Town­ship area cot­tage on Dec. 20. His car was still out­side the cot­tage when emer­gency crews ar­rived.

The burned down cot­tage was dis­cov­ered Dec. 22 when Brace­land’s cousin went to check on his own cot­tage a few lots over.

Sev­eral cot­tages didn’t have power, but he saw “glow­ing em­bers” a few lots over, Brace­land’s mother, Gail, said Thurs­day.

“He went over and the cot­tage was just gone,” she said. “There’s noth­ing stand­ing. It’s just the chim­ney.”

When Brace­land’s cousin called 911 at about 8:30 a.m., he didn’t know that Michael had been at the cot­tage since the day be­fore.

Gail Brace­land said she called the OPP af­ter learn­ing of the fire to report that her son had been at the cot­tage.

Later that same night, the OPP’s Ren­frew County crime unit and On­tario Fire Mar­shall in­ves­ti­ga­tors found re­mains in the burned out cot­tage. But with­out Brace­land’s dental records, they won’t know for sure it was Michael’s re­mains found in­side the cot­tage.

But they have had no luck in get­ting the dental records be­cause the of­fice is closed for the hol­i­days.

Brian Brace­land said Thurs­day he would have liked more help in get­ting his son’s dental records.

Mean­while, the fam­ily con­tin­ues to strug­gle with the death of a de­voted fa­ther, son and brother.

“I keep ex­pect­ing him to walk in the door and say, ‘Sorry I missed din­ner,’ ” Gail Brace­land said.

The cot­tage, which has been in the fam­ily for decades, was one of Brace­land’s “favourite places on earth” to rest and re­lax, his mother said.

Sev­eral other fam­ily mem­bers have cot­tages along the same road, which is how it came to be named Brace­land Lane.

Brace­land worked as a chef at The Pine Restau­rant in Ot­tawa’s Monterey Ho­tel. He was look­ing for a new job be­cause the restau­rant planned to lay off salaried em­ploy­ees.

Brace­land loved to cook lasagna for his 16 year-old son, Ri­ley, who has stayed with his grand­par­ents since he got the news.

“It’s very, very tough, but we’ve had a lot of sup­port from fam­ily and friends,” Gail Brace­land said. “Michael has a Face­book page that we’ve been look­ing at and there’s been lovely mes­sages on that. It’s really com­fort­ing.”

Gail Brace­land de­scribed her son as a funny man with a good sense of hu­mour.

He had a lot of friends and played hockey and en­joyed ski­ing when he was a child.

At the cot­tage, he was al­ways cook­ing up some­thing on the bar­be­cue, his mother said.

Back in Ot­tawa, he of­ten cooked in his mother’s kitchen be­cause it was big­ger than his, she said.

“He was al­ways com­plain­ing my knives weren’t sharp enough,” Gail Brace­land said.

 ?? FAM­ILY PHOTO ?? It is be­lieved that Michael Brace­land, 37, died af­ter the fam­ily cot­tage went up in flames some­time last week.
FAM­ILY PHOTO It is be­lieved that Michael Brace­land, 37, died af­ter the fam­ily cot­tage went up in flames some­time last week.

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