Shortly after we moved to Summerside, Prince Edward Island, we had an unusual visitor. My husband, an early riser at 4 a.m., coming up from the basement saw a red fox looking in through the side light of the front door. We had never seen foxes in our neighbourhood in Newfoundland. Here, they are common in our area and all around the province.
While coyotes are new to the island, foxes have been here a long time. In the 1890s, two enterprising men refined the process for raising silver foxes, resulting in a lucrative fox fur industry in Prince Edward Island. Fur was exported all over the world; the silver fox, a mutation of the red fox,
was highly prized in eastern European markets.
Speculators became involved, buying breeding pairs of foxes
from the island breeders with small deposits and selling them for sometimes double the price they eventually paid the farmers. They sold shares in their speculations to people in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and the eastern United States. Not mentioned in the above article, were the shares sold to Newfoundlanders.
The Moultons of Burgeo, Newfoundland, my husband's ancestors on his mother's paternal side, bought these shares too. In the will of Albert Edgar Moulton,
Partial will of Edgar Moulton
who died in World War I, he left shares in Raynor International Fox Company of Summerside, PEI and Glenaladale Silver Fox Company of Glenaladale, PEI to various family members.
It also appears that Edgar's father, Thomas Moulton, a merchant, was part of a fox breeding business in Burgeo, Newfoundland. In the same will, Edgar left his shares in the Burgeo Co-operative Fox Breeders Company* to his father, who had given them to Edgar. The inspiration for this co-operative may have been the Prince Edward Island fox breeding business.
Meanwhile, in PEI, the peak of the industry occurred between 1932-1937 when there were 1215 fox farms on the island. The farms disappeared decades ago with only wild foxes left to roam the island now.
I imagine these foxy descendants have inscribed in their DNA the details of their survival of the fur farming industry and subsequent return to the wild. Our visitor, one of those foxes, looked in on one of the descendants of the stakeholders of the industry. Peering in through the window at my husband, the fox barked, "Nah nah, na nah nah."
* The word breeders as in Burgeo Co-operative Fox Breeders Company is spelled two ways in Edgar's will, one as stated previously and another as Bruders. I used the word breeders in the story since it appears to be the correct word rather than bruder.