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 too.”

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.


 

Rita started fishing when she was a child.  She started fishing for trout.  Occasionally a chub, or some other small fish would take her hook, but her real love was for the “Silver King”, the Atlantic salmon.  Rita was also a beautiful caster.  She could throw a line as long, straight and true as any of the men anglers.  

Rita’s favourite fly was an old western pattern.  The “Woolyworm” was popular for big fish in Rocky Mountain lakes and streams.  In New Brunswick’s rivers the “Woolyworm” didn’t get much attention.  It still isn’t very popular with most fishermen, but it is easy to tie, and Rita had much success with it.

 

“Oriole” tied by Rita Parks in the late 1970s

Woolyworm

Tail:  Red wool, but optional
Body: Chenille of any colour
Back: Peacock herl
Hackle: Grizzly, brown, black, olive, or black saddle hackle
Head:  Black