Most Popular Post

Friday, 5 February 2016

A Fox Tale

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.

24 comments:

  1. They are beautiful creatures. And however they managed to escape the breeders, I'm glad they did so their descendants can be properly admired. Thank you for sharing this fascinating information. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are pictures of the foxes in front of the house. They are gorgeous creatures!

      Delete
  2. I guess the industry died out once women no longer wore fox fur stoles, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was part of it. The world wars took a toll on the industry as demand dropped in Europe.

      Delete
  3. I encountered a very tame pair of foxes and their young at Cape Spear a few years ago. I think they were caught and relocated just to keep them safe from being fed all sorts of rubbish by visitors.
    There's a fox family living near my house, I have seen him twice, and I saw footprints in the snow.... but no snow on the ground right now, only green grass!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are in dens here this time of year so we don't see them as much.

      Delete
  4. They are magnificent but keep an eye on your hens.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Marie,If that fox could have,he would have put up his paws and stuck out his tongue at Rick while saying nah nah na nah nah!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Different countries - different attitudes. Fox is vermin here. You might find this of some https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/1910ab1d-a019-4ece-aa98-1085e6848271/files/european-red-fox.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, Cathy. I always worry about our granddog when she visits. Foxes can be rabid and she could be attacked. I haven't heard of any such foxes here but there have been some in other provinces over the years.

      Delete
  7. Who knew about silver foxes? I always thoughts there was only one Silver Fox.

    I see my namesake was involved in that company mentioned in the will.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A silver fox in the wild is very rare. Ours don't sing though, but who knows, they might croon a Charlie Rich ballad for all I know. Lol.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Foxes here are now a menace to the local farmers. Since fox hunting was banned a few years ago the fox population has multiplied. One chicken farm closed down because he was being raided constantly by them. I even get one or two in my back garden some nights, but there is nothing here for them to eat, so why?

    The politically correct townie do-gooders have had the law changed. We can no longer hunt them, shoot them, gas them, trap them, and they have no natural predators (the foxes I mean, not the do-gooders, although sometimes I wish. . . . )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They love rodents so that might be the attraction. Here people generally like them. Coyotes are their natural enemies here.

      Delete
  10. You live in a fascinating part of the world, including the infestation of foxes. It's interesting to read about the varying opinions of your commentators regarding them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is interesting to see the varied reactions, I agree.

      Delete
  11. Fascinating history...wish you had captured the fox peeking in the window...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wish we had too. That would have been priceless.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Albert Edgar Moulton is my Great Uncle. My Grandfather, Thomas Moulton, son of George Moulton who was Albert's brother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You and my husband are third cousins. My first blog entry on Nov 11, 2013 mentions Edgar as well. Are you in Newfoundland or generations away from the island?

      Delete
  14. There is still an area in Burgeo known locally as "the fox farm".

    ReplyDelete
  15. How interesting? Are you from the same Moulton family?

    ReplyDelete