Community News

Blackville Salmon Fly Still an Icon

The iconic salmon fly that has been part of our village since 2005 and was the largest of its kind in Canada, recently lost the title to the community of Juniper, New Brunswick. Les McLaughlin shares the story of the fly and why its size really doesn’t matter.


Blackville Salmon Fly Still an Icon

Being a resident of Blackville and living in clear view of our village’s beautiful icon, the Blackville “Veterans Special” Fly, I decided to share its story.

When Hugh Hallihan was driving through the city of Campbellton and stopped to admire their beautiful Atlantic Salmon monument, a quick thought came to mind – he didn’t decide to race home and build a larger salmon, but instead – it being the year of the veteran – he thought why not build a salmon fly for our fishing community instead and name it the “Veteran’s Special”.

He then needed to find a fitting spot to place it; not a difficult decision for Mr. Hallihan, as being business owner of the Nine Pine Truck Stop, which at that time housed the local tourism office, sat near an old vacant lot owned by the Legion.

Hugh would never move forward with the project without proper permission and the full acceptance of the entire community. In doing so, he reached out to the local Anglican church minister, Father Douglas Barrett, a well-respected local citizen Boyd Underhill and the late Percy Mountain, both of whom served in the armed forces and my father Gary McLaughlin, an active Legion member. That meeting ended with full approval and encouragement.

The project did not receive any provincial funding and all material was paid for by Hugh Hallihan, except the mounting swivel which was provided by Shirley Underhill.  The fly was started in Hugh’s work shop and included preparing the main body, the fly wing and installing the curved main fly beam.  It was then transported to Shirley Underhill’s shop in Blackville where he played an important role in the completion of the barb, point, eye of the hook and installing the swivel. He also helped install the hook on-site.

Hugh always had a lot of praise for Paul Stephens and his fine works of art and paintings and asked him to paint the fly.  Eugene Donovan arranged a contest at Blackville School with student Jenna Tucker’s colour design selected as the winning palette. Each colour has a symbolic meaning to veterans: purple represents sorrow for the fallen soldiers; red and white for the Canadian flag; green for a soldier’s uniform; gold for the medals awarded to a soldier; red for the petals of a poppy and black for the centre of a poppy.

Although it may no longer be the largest fly hook in Canada – congratulations to the community of Juniper for their recent achievement – our fly still stands as an icon and tribute to all the veterans who have fought for or given their lives for our freedom – and that, not size, is truly all that matters.

Les McLaughlin 

Published in the Miramichi Leader (A.7), September 19, 2018

Village of Blackville

Village of Blackville

The village of Blackville is governed by an elected council made up of a mayor and four councillors. Incorporated as a village in 1966, Blackville has a population of 958 and has had a long history related to forestry and salmon fishing.

9 Comments

  1. Avatar douglas colford on September 20, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    What a great piece of history. Thank you Les

  2. Avatar Wendy Astle on September 20, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    It’s really nice to read the history of our salmon fly.

  3. Avatar Jane Coughlan on September 20, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Very well said, Les. Very informative.

  4. Avatar Ruth Hallihan on September 20, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Les thank you for the nice write up. It was very much appreciated.

  5. Avatar Amanda on September 20, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    Very nice write up 🙂

  6. Avatar E.J. Hubbard on September 21, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Great history, thank you for sharing!

  7. Avatar Shawn Cindy Underhill on September 24, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Great article Les!!

  8. Avatar Wynn Curtis on September 24, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Still the largest salmon fly in Blackville.

  9. Avatar Darryl Tucker on December 14, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Not the size that matters. It’s what the fly stands for. God Bless all our War Veterans in the past and for all that is fighting for peace today.

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