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 she tied.

 

 1950 photo of Hélène with Mr. Brian A. Gulline

  

Hélène tying at the Canadian Sportsman's    

    

  Helen at the vice in late 1940’s

 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 interesting.

“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 Montreal. 

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 known. 

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 (Early 1950’s)

 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 D.A. LaPointe.     

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.”