II. Early Attempts to Domesticate the Fox
IT would he futile to record all the early attempts to rear foxes in captivity and note has, therefore, been made of the experiences of only a few breeders at widely separated points. The experimenters, in most cases, were wholly unacquainted with the experience of others.
It has been customary for trapper-farmers to keep alive foxes caught in warm weather until the fur is prime. Thus, young foxes captured in July are kept until December before being killed. The earliest authentic record obtained of rearing young from foxes kept in captivity comes from Tignish, P.E.I., where Benjamin Haywood reared several litters some thirty-five years ago; but they were destroyed by the parent foxes because they were not kept in seclusion and quiet.
Doubtless there have been, in earlier years, numerous cases that were as successful as Mr. Haywood's, but it is interesting to record this experiment because he was a near neighbour of the men who finally achieved the greatest success in the commercial fox-breeding industry.
Several furriers in Quebec have been connected with breeding experiments. Messrs. Paquet Bros. had a small ranch once at St. Josephd'Alma near the head of the Saguenay, which they finally sold. Revillon Freres were interested in a ranch on the North shore of the gulf of St. Lawrence a dozen years ago, but finally abandoned the experiment believing that fox raising was destined to fail. Holt, Renfrew & Co. have a ranch near Quebec and have reared a litter of silver foxes from a pair of exhibition foxes in their menagerie at Montmorency Falls.
In Ontario, Rev. George Clark, of St. Catharines, an experienced breeder of pheasants, bred a litter of reds from a pet pair of wild foxes in 1905. Two ranches were started about 1906, near North Sydney, and on the Lingan Road near Sydney, N.S., respectively; but, after several years they failed to maintain the foxes in breeding condition. These were later sold to Bruce, Cummings, McConnell and others, who have proved to be successful ranchers.
Excellent success in breeding the fox has been achieved by Quebec Mr. Johann Beetz, at Piastre Baie, North shore, Gulf of
St. Lawrence, and Mr. T. L. Burrowman, of Wyoming, Ontario. The former is the scion of a wealthy Brussels family, and his roving spirit led him to Labrador and Alaska on hunting expeditions. He finally settled at Piastre Baie, about 1898, and attempted fox ranching with a pair of silver foxes brought from Alaska. There were trees at several points in the neighbourhood, and at some ten or twelve wooded spots, a hundred or more rods from his dwelling, he kept his pens, having two females and one male at each point. He adopted the