D’Arcy L. “Doris” O’Donnell

1886-1948

 D’Arcy “Doris” O’Donnell was a huge man who stood an easy six feet tall and weighed about 300 pounds.  He resided in Doaktown, New Brunswick where he operated a restaurant, barbershop and fishing tackle business, from the early twenties until his death in 1948.  He also operated overnight cabins from the mid-thirties until about 1946, catering to hunters, but mostly to salmon fishermen. 

It is unknown when “Doris” began tying flies, or who taught him.  He was very well known for his fly tying and is documented in the book “Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing” by Joseph D. Bates Jr.

 

D’Arcy “Doris” O’Donnell circa 1915

 “Doris” tied many of his flies during the winter when business was slow.  He would then sell the flies from his barbershop the following spring and summer.  Although D’Arcy derived part of his income from selling salmon flies, he had a very practical attitude concerning them.  The best fly is the one that probably means the one you fish the most with.  It isn’t so much the fly you fish with as the way you offer it.

There were many people who payed a visit to the shop where “Doris” ties his flies.  Many of the visitors purchased the flies, but many others watched and studied their construction.  It is known that such visitors were Bert Miner, Danny Carr, Wallace Doak and Abe Munn, all who later became noted fly tyers in their own right.  It is safe in saying that D’Arcy L. “Doris” O’Donnell was also one of the earliest teachers of fly tying on the Miramichi.

 D’Arcy O’Donnell holding salmon

 He had such a passion for the art of tying flies, and was also one of the most accommodating fly makers for his customers.  Howard Lyons, from Doaktown, went into Doris’ barbershop one day with a Sport and asked “Doris” to tie him a well known Everett Price streamer fly pattern.  Without hesitation “Doris” left his customer, sitting in the barber’s chair with half a head of hair, while he squatted at the vice and tied the streamer.  Yes Sir, “D’Arcy O’Donnell was quite a character.” 

“Doris” was also skillful at making fishing rods and was an avid angler himself.  There is a rumor that he had even left a customer in the barber’s chair while he hurried to the river to go fishing. 

In 1984 D’Arcy “Doris” O’Donnell was inducted into the Atlantic Salmon Hall of Fame at the Atlantic Salmon Museum in Doaktown, New Brunswick.

D’Arcy O’Donnell guiding a hunter on Cains River 1940’s