Dewey Hamilton Gillespie

          Dewey Hamilton Gillespie was born in the Village of Blackville on March 1, 1952,  the youngest of four sons in eleven children of the late Guila Evelyn (nee Johnson) and Maxwell Oriole Gillespie.
                      Like most kids born near the banks of the Miramichi River he spent a lot of time swimming, canoeing and fishing.  It was an inherited way of life, which he looks back on with admiration today. He Feels he is one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do so many things associated with the Miramichi River and it’s tributaries.

 

Dewey Gillespie at his vise 1994 Background portrait of Dewey’s father, Maxwell Oriole Gillespie, was painted by William Heaslip in 1964 The hair wing Mar Lodge and Jock Scott were tied by Dewey in 1993

 His father, who depended primarily on the river for his livelihood, frequently took Dewey to the river with him when he was just a little boy.  The experiences he had with him around the river were absolutely wonderful. Fishing for spring salmon and trout from the great big Chestnut canoe his Father would anchor near his favourite fishing spots.  He would sit as far forward as possible in the bow of the canoe  while his dad poled up the river for miles.  While on these trips they would scan the river bottom through crystal clear water for lost anchors, lures, rods, reels, or anything else they figured was of some value. His Father would share stories about when he was a little boy and of how enjoyed fishing, hunting, guiding and canoeing.  He often talked about days past and of the many wonderful people he met through guiding.  He would tell Dewey over and over how the river was one of the loves in his life and how it was good to him.  His father couldn’t swim a stroke, but he would travel on the river during the worst of conditions and yet the river never threatened him. I guess they just had so much respect for each other.  Maxwell Oriole Gillespie taught him a lot.  Dewey will treasure those memories till a day after always. 

Dewey guesses he was only about 8, or 9 years old when he started fishing.  He would tag along behind his older brother Gary and his friends when they went to a place called “The Cove”.  A man they always knew as Old Bill Underwood owned it.  He wasn’t real keen about you being on his property, but when the high water in the early spring began to drop, a large body of water would get trapped in the cove. A lot of trout were trapped there too and kids were drawn there like a moth to a flame.  The trout were a prime target for a bunch of youngsters with a flimsy old bamboo rod and a big gob of worm on a long shank hook.  She was great fun so long as Old Bill Underwood didn’t come along. 

Dewey started tying flies when he was ten years old.  His father and brothers were always tying flies and therefore it was easy for him, whenever he felt like it, to follow them and watch as they made their own salmon flies for fishing.  His brother Paul was more experience in the art of fly tying than his other siblings and he also had more patience.  This was a good thing, not that he didn’t give his other brothers reason to be impatient with him.  It was also Paul who first taught him the basics of fly tying.  In the beginning the flies Dewey tied were quite disgusting, but with more of Paul’s guidance and his practice Dewey was soon able to put together enough material on a hook that one could identify as a certain fly pattern being used by the anglers.  The early flies he tied were mostly assorted butt colored “Black Bears” and “Squirrel Tails”. 

At the age of twelve, while a member of the local Boy Scouts, Dewey earned a Fly-Tying Badge.  This was a very proud moment for him as he was the only Scout in his Troop and one of only three boys in New Brunswick to receive the award.  It is the only badge he saved from his worn out uniform shirt, which unfortunately he discarded many years ago.

In 1998 Dewey's son, Trente completed a fly tying test in Scouting and earned the same badge.  It was only fitting that Dewey was permitted to present him with the very same badge that he received in 1964

Dewey's Fly Tying Scout Badge from 1964 and Trente and Dewey when he earned the Fly Tying badge in 1998.

 

He considers himself an amateur fly tyer.  His interest is in researching the flies and the fly tyers in New Brunswick rather than tying large volumes of flies to fish with, or to sell.  Like the majority of the fly tyers he ties for the fun of it.  In the realm of fly tying he believes he can tie a moderate hair-wing fly.  In 1994, under the watchful eye of Miramichi Fly Tyer W.F. “Budd” Kitchen, Dewey tied his first feather dressed pattern.  It is a feather rendition of the Everett Price hair wing streamer fly pattern called the “Rose of New England.”  He cannot tie bugs, or bombers, even though Dewey knows he could learn how, his real passion is tying strip wing fly patterns.

 

Dewey's  feather wing version of the Everett Price hair wing Streamer fly pattern called the

“Rose of New  England.”

 

             His  favorite hair-wing fly is a red butt “Butterfly”.  There are two strip-wing flies that he really likes.  The first is Bert Miner's creation called “Blackville” and the other is the “Thunder and Lightning.”  His  favorite fully dressed pattern is a “Black Dose.”

            He will always remember the great runs of Atlantic salmon that rested in the river pools just over the hill from his home in Blackville.  Dewey caught his share of them, but  will always remember the time he caught his first Atlantic salmon.  It was a grilse, caught on a “Black Nymph” at the Brophy Pool on the Cains River when he was only eleven years old.        

Between 1974 and 1984 Dewey tied very few flies.  From 1985 to 1991 he began tying more often, but only for his personal use and for some friends.  In 1991 Dewey moved to Douglastown where he met fly tyer A. John Henderson, and artists Léda Aubert and Jean Pateneau.  With Henderson’s help Dewey learned a lot about fly tying and its origin, while Aubert and Pateneau encouraged him to start showcasing the flies in a framed format.  In June 1993 Dewey did his first Atlantic Salmon Fly Exhibitions at the ARTcadienne Gallery, Carrefour Beausoliel, Miramichi, N.B.

The exhibition was a tremendous success and it paved the way for a second exhibition in Campbellton, New Brunswick.  The first show consisted of mostly hair wing flies framed with paintings, but it lacked the finesse of the colorful and fanciful fully dressed patterns. Dewey began searching for a New Brunswick fly tyer who could tie the fully dressed patterns and this is when he was introduced to W.F. “Budd” Kitchen from Chatham, New Brunswick.  Since 1993 “Budd” Kitchen has been a close personal friend, partner and mentor for the creation and building of “Where The Rivers Meet” The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick Collection.   

In 1993 Dewey designed a fly, which over the years became popular to collectors.  The thirty-three components in the design of the fly are significant to everything relevant in the game of hockey and the National Hockey League; therefore he appropriately named the fly “He Shoots – He Scores.” When Dewey first got the idea for the fly he was thinking of his oldest son and his love for the sport.  In the late 1990’s he was given the honor of presenting “He Shoots-He Scores” to the Montreal Canadian Hockey legend, Mr. Jean Belliveau.

Hockey Legend, Jean Belliveau being presented with “He Shoots-He Scores”

 

Because of the interest “Budd” and Dewey  have for fly tying they’ve been honored in numerous ways.  “Budd” is recognized for his fly tying artistry while at the same time they are recognized for their dedication to preserving the history on New Brunswick Fly Tiers and their accomplishments.  Since 1993 they have contributed countless hours toward collecting, building and presenting the information about them.  Doing this through the collection called, Where The Rivers Meet, “The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick.”  The collection, upon request, is presented at Galleries and Museums throughout the province. 

            In March 1995, Dewey released a book called, Where The Rivers Meet, “The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick.”  The pocket-sized book chronicles twenty-three fly tyers.  Only a thousand copies of the book were distributed.

                In April 1996, he was commissioned to build a gallery-framed, fully dressed salmon fly collection of W.F. “Budd” Kitchen, for presentation to His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.  They have also donated a number of framed salmon flies to organizations in the province.    On February 6, 1997, Drew Marketing & Productions Ltd named Dewey a Canadian Achiever.  The Canadian Achievers is a syndicated network radio program heard daily coast to coast on 150 of Canada’s leading radio stations.  The program is also heard on VoicePrint, the Cable-TV audio service for the visually impaired. Over 5 million Cable-TV homes coast to coast receive VoicePrint.  It is also heard worldwide on 3WB a real time radio service on the World Wide Web.

In the summer of 2000 Dewey completed a 120-kilometer canoe trip on the main Southwest Miramichi River from Miramichi City to Boiestown.  He was accompanied by his family when he poled his twenty foot canoe “up the river and against the current” in just under 49 hours.  This was a real highlight in his life as it gave him a chance to spend time on the river with his family and to view the river from a completely different perspective.  It really gave him a feel for just how difficult it was for the early river guides to transport anglers, and all their supplies to isolated areas on the river.  Years ago there were neither boats with motors nor roads to get them into the most isolated and best fishing pools on the river.

Dewey with his daughter Tracy as they arrive at the bridge in Doaktown, N.B. 2000

 

                On September 27, 2002, Dewey was inducted as a member of the Sportsman Hall of Fame in the Atlantic Salmon Museum at Doaktown, New Brunswick and in November 2002 he was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal for making an outstanding and exemplary contribution to the community and Canada as a whole.

           Dewey is a humble man, believing the awards he has received would not have been possible if it had not been for the Fly Tyers of New Brunswick. He acknowledges receipt of those awards on behalf of the Fly Tyers.  He says, " the greatest honor, or reward from all of this, is the kindness, generosity and help he received from all the Fly Tyers, members of their family, relatives and personal friends who made their representation possible for this collection.", " I never would have been able to do this without them.  They are a major part of my life; they are like part of my family.  I’ve grown to know each and every one as a personal friend and they stand no less than an icon for their community, and are a monument for New Brunswick.”

            Dewey sincerely appreciates the help he received from everyone in compiling and presenting the information about New Brunswick Fly Tyers, which you can now access through the Internet.  Especially grateful to his partner and friend W.F. “Budd” Kitchen and L.Bryant Freeman.  Bryant has always been one of our strongest supporters making it possible for you to access the information through the Internet. 

Most importantly Dewey thanks his wife Lois and  children Deatra, Perry, Tracy and Trente who through it all offered him support, encouragement and help. 

            Like his father, He has always had a longing to be near the river.  He was guiding American Sportsmen before he was legally old enough to hold a license.  While very young his father introduced him to many people from far away places.  The majority of these people were good to his family, but there is no one who stands out more to me than the famous artist and fly tyer, the late Charles DeFeo.  To him he was simply known as “Charlie”.  Physically, he was a midget of a man, but inside he was a mountain of a man who possessed such wonderful qualities which Dewey relates to us below.

            "I'm not sure how old I was, or where it was that I first met him.  It seems like he was always there, one of us, fishing at the pool in Blackville known as “Up Behind The Island”.  I have a whole lot of memories about Charlie, even though our encounters with each other were not long ones, they were long enough to forge a remembrance of him that can’t be forgotten.  It is only today that I realize just how much of a person he is in the realm of art and fly tying.  People around the world write about his flies and fishing expedition.  I remember Charlie as a little man who had the most wonderful personality.  A man who loved children, who was honest, generous and an excellent fly tier, even if he wasn’t from New Brunswick.  Like my brother Gary, I would write a short letters to him to tell him how the fishing was and he always took the time to answer them.  Inside was a neatly handwritten letter, a one-dollar American bill, a pencil drawing, usually of a person playing a fish and the nicest dressed little salmon fly that anyone could ever hope for.  Who knows, maybe DeFeo played some part in why I have such an interest in New Brunswick fly tyers and their flies.  I guess I’ll never know."

 He Shoots – He Scores

Goal Light Head: Red
Goal Light Tip: Red floss
Hockey Stick Tag Brown floss
Center Line Tail Red feather or strands of red floss
Puck Butt Black Ostrich herl
Three Periods Rib: Three turns of oval silver tinsel over white half of body
Blue Lines Hackle: Blue, palmered   
Ice Surface and Stanley Cup Body Rear half: White floss. Front half: Flat silver tinsel 
Jersey Colors of all teams in 1993 Wing Small bunches of mixed white, blue, red, yellow,  black,   orange, green, silver, and turquoise dyed hair
Linesmen Cheeks Jungle Cock
Referee Collar: Grizzly hackle