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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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GRIFFIN, WILLIAM THOMAS (1881-1966)

GRIFFIN, WILLIAM THOMAS, sportsmen's guide and outfitter; b. near Stanley, N.B., 23 Mar 1881, s/o William H. Griffin and Julia Rose Thomas; m. 1903, Mary Elizabeth Gordon, then of Nashwaak Village; d. Stanley, 28 Sep 1966.

William T. Griffin was the son of a New Brunswick woodsman who taught him to hunt, trap, and guide. As a youth, at the turn of the 20th century, he attended sportsmen's shows in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and helped make the New Brunswick exhibits a success. A newspaper advertisement published by the Jordan Marsh Co. in this period shows a photo of "Billy Griffin, famous guide of Boiestown, Miramichi, New Brunswick" in his guide's uniform, and states that, while in Boston for the Sportsmen's Show, he will be giving "demonstrations and advice" at noontime in Jordan Marsh's sporting goods department.

With the growing popularity of moose, caribou, and deer hunting for sport, Griffin and his father built up a successful outfitting business on the Nashwaak River. From the beginning, they also organized hunting and fishing expeditions in the Southwest Miramichi watershed and made Boiestown their second home. Griffin Jr became a full-time resident in 1928 when he and his son, Preston Griffin, built the Griff-Inns at Boiestown. These were several motel-quality cabins set in a grove of pine trees beside the highway. In a prominent place among them the American portrait artist Ernest L Ispen erected a stylish 'studio cabin', where he holidayed with his wife and painted and fished for salmon several months annually. The Boiestown inns were the home base of a network of camps many miles upstream, where the big game was found.

The Griff-Inns were conducted by Griffin and son until 1949, when the business was sold to Clayton Stewart. The sportsmen who employed their services over the years included many well-known game hunters and world travellers, and men with famous names, such as Ralph Pulitzer, the son of Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World.

Griffin served for several years as president of the New Brunswick Guides' Association and was a lifelong promoter of the interests of guides, outfitters, and sportsmen. In his leisure time he wrote pieces for publication in sporting magazines and Canadian and New England newspapers. These, together with verse of his authorship on outdoor themes, provided the raw material for the book You're On the Miramichi, which was issued in his name in 1981, fifteen years after he died.

While residing in the Stanley area Griffin sat on the York County Council and attended the Cross Creek Baptist Church. At Boiestown he attended the United Church. Three daughters, a son, and a foster son were named as his survivors in 1966.

Sources

[b] Griffin [m] official records [d] Telegraph 29 Sep 1966 / scrapbook #97 (re. William H. Griffin); Stewart, C.


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