Hélène (Jean) LeFebvre
Hélène (Jean) LeFebvre was
the main attraction at the Canadian Sportsman’s Show in Toronto. She
demonstrated her fly tying talent in numerous exhibitions for the Lake St.
Louis Anglers, and was admired, respected and promoted by other great
fly tiers such as Carmelle Bigaouette, Brian Gulline, David Arthur LaPointe,
Sterling Pollock, and M.H. Wilkinson.
Hélène LeFebvre was born on January 22, 1924 in Atholville, New Brunswick.
She is the daughter of the late Léopoldiné (nee Roy) and Emile Jean.
Hélène started studying the
art of fly tying in 1940. Her teacher was David Arthur (D.A.) LaPointe, the
famous fly tier who supplied salmon flies to anglers from the mid 1920's to
1949 in Atholville, New Brunswick.
By the mid 1930's D.A.
LaPointe had already establishing quite a reputation as an expert tier of
trout and salmon flies. Little did he know that one day Hélène would dazzle
the minds of countless enthusiastic fly tiers and anglers from around the
world. From 1940 to 1949, Hélène tied flies exclusively for D.A.
LaPointe. She was one of five women who tied for him during those
years. From 1949 to 1951, she was a special featured guest,
for a week at a time, at the Canadian Sportsman's Show in Toronto. At
the booth of Fin, Fur and Feathers Ltd., the Montreal tackle shop presided
over by Mr. Brian A. Gulline, crowds stood in rows ten deep to watch the
super-decorative Hélène tying the equally eloquent flies. They came to watch
her working on 10, 12, and 14 size flies during her fly tying demonstrations.
Hélène had a way of putting something of her own attractiveness into every fly
photo of Hélène with Mr. Brian A. Gulline
Hélène tying at the Canadian
Helen at the vice in late
In 1950, Hélène started
tying regularly for Bill Gulline. She tied for him until 1952. That same
year she got married and took some time off from fly tying until 1955. When
she started tying flies again she was doing her fly tying at home, supplying
orders of specialized flies to some wealthy Americans in New York. Some of
her other customers included Carl Flood, head of the Montreal Stock Exchange,
and Charles Frost a major pharmaceutical representative in Montreal, Mr. James
Molson, and the famous ship builder Joseph Simard. She filled many requests
for a variety of special flies, but one fly that was extremely popular was a
very small, long hackled Dry Fly called “Jumping Johnny.”
“Jumping Johnny” was designed
and precision tied by Mr. M.H. Wilkinson, with the sole thought of its
possible appeal to “those who know their trout flies” as a balanced creation,
more for the den than stream or lake. It was not intended as an imitation of
any particular natural insect or lure, but heavier hackled for practicability,
its acceptability by trout under certain conditions might well prove
“Jumping Johnny” was first
publicized under mutual courtesy by Fin, Fur and Feathers Limited (Gulline
Bros.) at the Angler’s Association of Quebec Inc., Sportsman’s Show in
Montreal, Quebec, March-April, 1948.
In 1949, Hélène tied a
special version of the same fly for the private collection of Fin, Fur and
Feathers Limited. Her version also became extremely popular in Toronto and
In 1953, at the request of
Quebec Fisheries, Helen did a special fly tying demonstration for (C.I.L.)
Canadian Industries Limited. In the mid 1950's, Gulline Brothers hired Hélène
again. She tied flies for them until 1968. When she finished tying for the
Gulline Brothers, Hélène personally continued tying and selling her flies
until 1970. This was the last year that she tied flies commercially. Hélène
still tied flies, but not to meet the demanding orders from the tackle
suppliers and wealthy Americans.
As of 1996, when Hélène ties
a fly it is for a selected friend. Her tying today is for enjoyment. Over the
years fly tying for Hélène LeFebvre provided her with some of the greatest
pleasures of life. She met thousands of people and made an equal number of
friends. She produced some of the most beautifully created salmon fly patterns
Not many people can master the art of tying the fully dressed feather-wing
patterns. Success is attributed to a balanced combination of dedication,
patience and talent. Having all these qualities is what made Hélène LeFebvre
an expert fly tier.
Jock Scott tied by Hélène LeFebvre
Hélène LeFebvre has tied
flies with, and witnessed the skill of some world class fly tiers, but her
heart favours, above all others, David Arthur LaPointe and Corinne (Legace)
Gallant, both from her little home village of Atholville, New Brunswick.
Hélène is one of “Five Lady Fly Tiers” who were taught the art of fly tying by
Hélène is not only a fly tier,
but an angler as well. Her favourite rivers are the Matapedia and Restigouche.
In 1955, while fishing the Restigouche River, using a “Dark Montreal” tied by
her sister, Hélène caught a five-pound trout. In the same year she caught a
20-pound salmon in the Matapedia River, using a “Black Dose.”
It is not uncommon for people
to choose favourite pets, colours and numbers. Anglers also choose favourite
salmon and trout flies. Hélène LeFebvre’s favourite fly is the “Black Dose.”