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The Sportsman Cigarette Fly Collection

Back in the 1950's and 60's the Sportsman Cigarette company produced over 125 cigarette packages with a unique fly drawing on the back.  I remember as a kid in the 60's collecting these packages as my Dad smoked at least a pack of these a day.  I used to cut the circle out and glue it to a home-made poster trying to collect the whole series.  I had no idea how many there were supposed to be in total but I am sure I had close to 80 of them.

I have no idea what ever happened to that poster or my collection but I do remember the feelings I had when I would accompany my Dad on his fly fishing trips in the Interior of BC.  I have 2 boys of my own now (6 and 8 yr) and I love taking them out with me on some of my trips.  I have found the best advice I can give fellow fishers with kids is to leave your own rod at home on those trips! ;-) 

Anyway, I have rekindled my desire to collect all of them and in my research I have found a few surprises.  With the advent of the Internet and especially Ebay, I have been able to piece together that there was more than one company making these cigarettes and their accompanying fly pictures in Canada, and around the world.  So far I have found 4 different versions (series) of these flies: The Rothman's Classic Sportsman (English only), the Rothman's French Canadian version (English and French), the Rock City Tobacco Company, in Quebec, Canada (English and French), and the Carreras Limited Company, in London, England, (merged with Rothman's in 1958). 

Rothmans of Pall Mall started operations in Canada in 1957 at a time when its British parent company was expanding throughout the Commonwealth. In 1958, Rothmans’ parent company acquired a controlling interest in Carreras Limited of London, United Kingdom. Carreras had a controlling interest in Canada’s Rock City Tobacco Company, a firm based in Quebec City since being founded in 1899 and best known for its Craven “A”, Black Cat, and Sportsman brands. In 1963, all outstanding stock of Rock City Tobacco was acquired by Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.

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Rob Chernenko  (email: Rob.Chernenko @ BCFlyFish.com )