A Father’s Legacy in the Remote Maine Woods

Written by: Matt J. Libby, Libby Camps

Matt P. Libby shows off a gorgeous Maine landlocked salmon.
Photo via Facebook

What do you say about growing up with a living legend? I say that a little in jest, but it’s true. Orvis lifetime achievement award, Legendary Maine Guide Award, Maine Tourism Hall of Fame . . . my father, Matt P. Libby, has truly earned all the accolades. What sticks out the most to me is that he is completely incapable of quitting or even slowing down.

When he and my mom bought out my grandmother—becoming the owner of Libby Camps, on Maine’s Millinocket Lake—business was pretty slow, and what business there was dried up pretty quickly because, “They don’t do it like Elsie did!” My parents stuck with it, working jobs on the side to make ends meet, and built the business up enough to survive. After a few years, they knew that they had to either focus solely on the lodge or sell it. Obviously, they decided on the former, or I wouldn’t be writing this. They put everything they had into it and finally were able to turn a profit.

He could have been happy with that, but he pushed forward and expanded by adding bathrooms to the existing cabins and building new cabins in his “spare time.” When this was done, he could have settled there, but he decided we needed a seaplane and a pilot. So, he went out and got his pilot’s license and bought an airplane (for about the same price he had purchased the camps for!). So, everything was finally just how he wanted it, so why not expand into Labrador and see if we can run a camp up there?


The two Matt’s share the father’s lifetime achievement award at the Orvis Guide Rendezvous.
Photo by Ben Rioux, via Instagram

I’m pretty sure the only reason he sold out to me was that he ran out of ideas on how to improve. He’s now “retired” and working with a Christian group rebuilding a lodge in Alaska so they can help veterans. Like I said, he doesn’t know how to slow down. When I was about five, he bought an old, rundown farm house that he planned to fix up while we lived in it. Do you remember the old button light switches? You would press the button and wait; then maybe five seconds later, the light would come on, or if it didn’t you bang on the wall to make it work. Well, this house had those.

Working in the off-season between sportsmen’s shows and upkeep on the camps, he would do about one room a winter. When I graduated high school, he had it completely done and exactly how he wanted it, so he sold it. I’m telling you, he needs a challenge. And I’m glad he does. His hard work still shows up every day in the lodge that we are lucky enough to run. Love ya Dad!

Matt J. Libby is a former Trout Bum of the Week, and he owns and operates Libby Camps, which was founded by his great-grandfather on the shores of Millinocket Lake in 1890. Matt J. (the initial distinguishes him from his dad) now runs the place, and he flies guests to remote waters in his trusty Cessna 185.

11 thoughts on “A Father’s Legacy in the Remote Maine Woods”

  1. Great article Matt. You are continuing the Libby legacy with the help of Jess. We are proud of you. Aunt Mary and Uncle Randy.

  2. amazing story..about an amazing family!!..and i see the resemblance of Matt senior with an old fraternity friend of mine..Tyler Libby..having lived in Fairbanks Alaska for 10 years..many years ago…I grew ..sometimes by necessity..to appreciate the outdoor life..and never regretted the experience…a wonderful life for Matt Libby..and great experiences enjoyed by all who had the chance to stay at the Libby lodge!!..congratulations to the family

  3. The Libby’s were my neighbors in Maine when I was growing up. Matt P Libby’s mother and father were hard working smart people. They left their mark on all their children. I am so proud I knew them. Matt P is a great fellow and he is still young so he still has much to accomplish.

  4. What a great article. We had the privilege of getting a plane ride and supper at the Libby Camps a couple of years ago. We won it at an auction. When we see the Tickets at an auction we always bid. What an experience that was. That was the first time for me ( Jean) to ride in a small float plane. Thank you Mat for a great day. The meal was excellent as well. Enjoy your working retirement.

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