Rita Marie (Bennett) Parks
1922 - 1983
Rita Parks loved
the outdoors. She loved being around other people and no matter who the
person was, Rita was always kind and caring. She always strived for the
very best and regardless of what obstacles she encountered she still made
the best of it. She was a very honest, good, and simply down-to-earth
person, who was fun to be around.
Rita Marie (Bennett)
Parks was born on December 25, 1922 in St. George, Newfoundland. She was
the daughter of the late Mary Alice (nee Burgeous) and Joseph Leonard
Bennett. In 1929, Rita’s family moved to New Brunswick. They settled and
lived the remainder of their lives in St. Martins, a beautiful little
village located just east of Saint John, along the Bay of Fundy coast.
Rita Marie (Bennett)
Parks (Late 1960s)
Rita started tying
flies in 1956. It started because of her need for flies to fish with.
Flies were hard to come by and it was cheaper to make her own . She also
needed plenty of flies when guiding, and her desire to make the fishers she
guided successful often hinged on trying to select the right fly. This was
another reason why she started tying flies. She could also experiment with
different materials and patterns.
Beulah Armstrong, a
fly tying friend who visited Rita says, “Rita was always giving her flies
away. It was nothing for Rita, after catching a salmon, to take the fly off
and give it to someone that was fishing the same pool. If she had more of
the same pattern she would take them out of her fly box and give them away
Rita married Edward
Lea Parks, a warden who served the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for
more than 20 years, in the Salmon River area. Rita and her husband shared
many hours at the fly tying vice. Over the winter months they’d tie enough
flies to last them through the summer. When the fishing season opened and
fisherman arrived at Salmon River, Rita and Edward Parks were the first ones
that fisherman would seek out, if they wanted to know where the fish were.
Edward knew the river like the back of his hand. He knew the best locations
and times for catching salmon; knew how to direct you to the spot with the
least difficulty, ensuring that you’d have a safe and enjoyable time. Living
with the outdoors was Edward’s way of life. It became his profession, and
what he knew about the outdoors he passed on to Rita. The love and respect
this husband and wife team had for the river and fishing was unequalled by
anyone. Rita, who was an experienced guide, was the first woman in the
province to obtain a guide’s license, and was very serious about what she
was doing. She would travel with Edward, visiting sportsmen, sharing
stories and trying to instil in others, a responsible, respectable attitude
toward people, the environment and the wildlife.