Tractor-trailer load of fishing history makes Doaktown museum giddy

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Tractor-trailer load of fishing history makes Doaktown museum giddy

A fishing museum in the tiny village of Doaktown received a massive donation Wednesday morning.  

As ice flowed out of the nearby Miramichi River, hundreds of fish mounts, rare items and decades of fishing history came to the Atlantic Salmon Museum, all from the private collection of a late Vancouver architect.

And it all came as a gift. 

"This is overwhelming, so very overwhelming," said Delmer White, president of the Atlantic Salmon Museum. "We are very surprised, very pleased and it's really going to reinvigorate this museum." 

The tractor-trailer containing the collection belonging to the late John Keith-King was unloaded by more than 50 volunteers. In bucket brigade-style, they unpacked hundreds of art pieces and sculptures, and 301 fishing fly plates housing hundreds of delicately tied flies.  

Keith-King, who died in December 2015, had originally housed his collection on Granville Island in Vancouver as part of his fly-fishing museum. 

"But when he passed his family looked for a place where it would be appreciated and they chose us," White said. "It's incredible." 

World class 

After the donation was confirmed, White said an anonymous donor gave the museum $350,000 to expand the building. 

"This is going to give us a big shot in the arm," said Morris Green, honorary director of the museum. "In fact, I think, when we have all in place it's going to make this museum the best of its kind in the world."

The museum staff don't expect the newly donated collection to be fully in place until next year, but portions of it are expected to be on display in May.

Residents of Doaktown say the donation has the potential to change the community. 

"We're just a rural people," said Peggy Green, who helped organize the volunteers and the unpacking. "We're not used to having a lot of things, so it's kind of nice to have something so special to attract other people and to share it with other people. 

"It's not often you get something given to you like that. Especially something that's going to be so great for our community, and the province, and maybe even all of Canada."