JOE BROOKS
AN INSPIRATIONAL
FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
ABOUT A MAN ONCE
ENTANGLED IN THE DARK
DEPTHS OF ADDICTION
UNTIL HE MET THE LOVE
OF HIS LIFE. SHE HELPED
TRANSFORM HIM AND HE
TRANSFORMED AN
ENTIRE SPORT.
 
The love of Joe Brooks' life and the driving force behind his miraculous personal transformation was Mary Ainslie. Mary was born in northern Ontario, Canada. Her father was a government official of the day and Mary became the Director of Travel and Publicity for the province of Ontario. The time was just after the Second World War. Her job was to get hunters, fisherman and outdoor enthusiast to visit and tour Ontario. She knew many service men returning from the war would be interested in her beloved province and the outdoor activities it possessed. So she devised a clever plan to entice the leading outdoor American writers of the day to visit Ontario and be subdued and overawed by its untouched outdoor riches. It worked. Many flocked to her province and tourism boomed. In the process, Mary met one of these writers and fell madly in love with him. His name was Joe Brooks. "I was attending a conference of the Outdoor Writers of America when I met a fellow member, Joe Brooks. Joe was recently out of the U.S. Coast Guard, writing a column on fly fishing called 'Pools & Riffles' for a Towson, Maryland, newspaper and had just published his first book, 'Bass Bug Fishing' [Putmans 1947]."

Because of that chance meeting with Mary, Joe was invited to fish Ontario. "The following year, Joe joined a group of outdoor writers on a trip I had arranged to promote fishing and hunting in Ontario," Mary wrote years later. "As a result of our second meeting, we decided to marry."

Mary knew Joe came with a lot of baggage and a dark past most women would run from. But the spark and tingle Mary felt was too great to ignore. She knew he was the one. Debie Waterman, wife of outdoor writer Charlie Waterman and one of Mary's best friends, said Mary told her once, "You know Debie, I took a real chance with Joe, didn't I?" This was on reflection after many years of marriage to Joe. Mary had known Joe's less than admirable past, but there was something there, a real spark, which compelled her to take a chance on Joe.

They were married in 1948 in Florida with the ceremony being attended by a Who's Who of fly fishing. They would stay married and devoted to each other until Joe's death in 1972, a 24-year partnership and love affair. Debie goes on to say, "she truly loved that man and he loved her." This 24-year period also coincides with Joe's meteoric rise as a leading outdoor author, pioneer and angler. Mary was the key person behind Joe's success.





Photos Courtesy of Marvin Williams
Quotes from Mary are from the book Growing Up in Paradise, The History of Nelson’s Spring Creek Ranch, by Helen and Edwin Nelson
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