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FUR-FARMING IN CANADA   15

forms of wire enclosures. In 1897, Dalton built a ranch at Tignish, still retaining a half-interest in the Oulton ranch. He bought and sold skins and generally conducted the fur sales for the district. All Oulton's foxes were sold by Dalton, as well as those of his late partners, James Rayner and others. Dalton also conducted a general correspondence with the fur trade, and imported stock which proved of value for crossing.

It was inevitable that enterprising neighbours who guessed

Early P.E.I. how successfully the fox breeding was being carried on Breeders

would chafe at not being able to participate in such a

profitable enterprise. Others soon began to experiment. In 1891, James Tuplin and James Gordon purchased a pair of foxes for $340, and, to the surprise of Dalton and Oulton, succeeded in rearing young from them in the following season. Silas Rayner was also alive to the situation and though, at first, unable to secure stock of good quality, he learned how to keep foxes successfully and finally secured better stock from Dalton and from Gordon. Frank Tuplin, of Summerside, obtained the foundation stock for his large ranch by securing foxes from his uncle, Robert Tuplin. It is probable that the pelt value of foxes owned by the above mentioned individuals and their inheritors at the present time aggregates $300,000. The value of their stock as breeders is now in such demand, that possibly $2,000,000 could be obtained for it.

Most of the early attempts to rear foxes failed because:

  1. No good fencing material, such as the woven wire used at the present time, was available.

  2. The monogamous nature of foxes was not recognized and being quartered in one pen in large numbers, the young were killed.

  3. The price of fur was not high enough to induce breeders to risk large amounts of capital in experiments, and those who had the aptitude for the business usually possessed but little capital.

The rising prices for silver fox in the `nineties', the availability of woven-wire fencing and the persistence of men like Oulton. Dalton, Beetz and Burrowman are responsible for the successful methods of ranching evolved. The fox-breeding methods of the pioneer breeders were kept from the public, and as late as 1910, not more than a dozen ranches were in existence. The last big sales of fur were made in that year, and selling for foundation breeding stock has been general since that time. So great is the demand that the prices of breeders have risen in two years, from $3,000 a pair to $15,000, and at the date of writing—December, 1912—the best stock cannot be obtained at the last-named figure.


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