Arctic & Northern History
Peaking in the period from 1911 through 1916, fox farms brought a great deal of money into the Yukon, with single pelts selling for over $1,500 - a year's wages for many people.
- J. B. Adam: bought two pair of foxes, being cared for by J. E. Geary, 1925.
- George Armstrong: enters the business of fox farming with 2 pups bought from Patsy Henderson, 1911.
- Charles W. Barlow: manager of the Black Silver Fox Farm, 1914.
- Rev. W. G. Blackwell: as some foxes being taken care of by Ed Marcotte, 1916.
- Joe Brewers: has a fox and mink farm on the Hootalinqua River, 1915.
- William Cathro: partner with Captain P. Martin in his fox farm near Macrae, 1916. In 1920, bought out Capt. Martin.
- G. P. Colwell: bought 4 acres of land across the river from Whitehorse in order to start a fox farm, 1913.
- Carl F. Faulk: running a fox farm at Conrad, 1908. Moved the farm to Carcross. Running the fox farm on Nares Lake with E. J. Proulx, 1912.
- Wm. Geary: running a fox farm on Teslin Lake with W. A. Puckett, 1917. Takes over management of J.P. Whitney's operation, 1918.
- Dr. J. O. Lachapelle: operating Northern Fox Farm at Whitehorse with associates, 1917.
- Norman Macaulay: setting up a fox farm at Snag, 1914.
- J. E. "Ed" Marcotte: sold his barber shop to run his fox farm across the river at Whitehorse full time, 1916.
- Captain P. Martin: running a fox farm near Macrae, 1916.
- E. J. Proulx: running a fox farm on Nares Lake with C. F. Faulk, 1912.
- W. A. Puckett: running a fox farm on Teslin Lake with Wm. Geary, 1917.
- J. A. Simmons: managing the Perfection Fox Ranch at Carcross, 1920.
- Rick Scramstad: set up a fox farm on the Mayo Road with Don Sumanik Jr., 1981.
- Don Sumanik Jr.: set up a fox farm on the Mayo Road with Rick Scramstad, 1981.
- J.P. Whitney: owned the Black Silver Fox Farm.
- Black Silver Fox Farm: across the river from Whitehorse. Incorporated by J.P. Whitney, 1914.
- Colwell Fur Farms: incorporated by G. P. Colwell, 1914.
- Martin & Cathro: operated at Macrae by Captain P. Martin and William Cathro, 1916-1917.
- Northern Fox Farm at Whitehorse, owned by Dr. J. O. Lachapelle and associates, 1917.
- Perfection Fox Ranch: operating at Carcross under J. A. Simmons, 1920
- Silver Black Fox Farm: operating in 1915 in the northern limits of Whitehorse, owned by Chas. H. Eisenhauer and Mrs. Winnifred Sharp. Sold to J. E. Geary, 1920.
April 21, 1911: "The raising of black foxes, the pelt of which is the highest-priced fur on the market, is proving a profitable business, and has fully demonstrated the fact that black and silver foxes can be bred in captivity, according to
consular reports. Recently Carl W. Faulk, of Carcross, Yukon Territory, captured a litter of black fox puppies, and decided to raise them for breeding purposes, His enterprise not only has proved a success financially, but has contradicted the general belief that black foxes, like black sheep, are merely freaks. Offers as high as $1500 have been made Mr.
Faulk for the pelt of one of the black males, and he has sold pelts of silver foxes as high as $1200 each." (The Weekly Star)
July 11, 1911: "Cub Fox
The Weekly Star, January 26, 1912
Patsy Henderson, an Indian, arrived in town one day recently with three cub foxes, which he captured about 65 miles out on the Dawson trail. One of the cubs is perfectly black, and, if it can be raised and developed to full size in captivity, its skin will be worth several hundred dollars. Patsy asks $400 for the black cub, but owing to the chances to be taken in raising it, fur buyers are of the opinion he has another "ask" coming. Geo. Armstrong purchased the other two and will engage in fox culture."
George Armstrong is mourning the loss of one of his domesticated foxes, the black one, which escaped from its environment nearly two weeks ago by gnawing a hole in the wire netting which formed the enclosure. As it was the black fox of the pair, the loss to Mr. Armstrong is quite heavy as the skin would have brought him a very fancy price - anywhere from $400 to $750. Mr. Armstrong purchased three young foxes, one black and two greys, from an Indian last summer, when they were not to exceed three months old. One of the greys died shortly after he purchased them and the other two had grown rapidly and were in fine condition when the black one escaped recently.
LATER - The lost fox has been found. Mr. Armstrong offered a reward of $200 for the return of his fox alive and the result was that a number of both palefaces and Indians got busy. But a wily "untutored" won the prize. A young Indian named Charley Burns (or Brown) having sighted the fox about four miles down the river Wednesday afternoon, put out a small steel trap, surrounded by fox edibles. As the fugitive had never had any experience in rustling its provision, it lacked the cunning of the forest-grown Reynard, and the result was that it fell an easy victim. On returning to his trap yesterday about noon the fox was thereunto attached by two toes. It is now safely back with with its mate and Mr. Armstrong is busy strengthening his fox kennel.
July 26, 1912: "Sale Of Foxes
George Armstrong recently sold his pair of foxes, one of which, the female, was a beautiful black and a one worth fully $1500, to J.B. Milligan, a stranger from Prince Edward Island, Milligan had been in the Fairbanks country, where he purchased a number of foxes, none of which were as fine as the black one secured here. His partner was to meet him with a number of 'reynards' secured in the Valdez country and together they would take their purchases back to Prince Edward Island where they have a fox farm."
September 27, 1912: "Dissolution Of Co-Partnership
The Weekly Star, April 11, 1913
Notice is hereby given that the firm operating the Fox Farm two miles from the town of Carcross, Yukon Territory, was, on the 31st day of August, 1912, dissolved by mutual consent C. F. Faulk retiring from and E. J. Proulx continuing the business at the same location, the fox farm on the right limit of Nares Lake. E. J. PROULX
Dated Sept, 24, 1912."
The Weekly Star, May 2, 1913
Edmonton, Alta, Apr. 2 - Several titled society women of London and other parts of England, attracted by the high prices paid for black fox pelts, are coming to Edmonton this spring to engage in fox breeding in central and northern Alberta. They are prepared to make large investments. If the venture is successful, it is likely that women - who have hitherto devoted their attention to prize dogs and horses, will engage in the new industry.
Eight black fox skins, each valued at $1,500, were sold in Edmonton last week by trappers from the north country. Fifty-four thousand dollars' worth of silver fox pelts were sold last season. J. L. Cote, representing the Athabasca district in the provincial parliament, said in the course of an address the other day that the fur industry in Alberta was a matter of $1,000,000 in 1912, muskrats heading the list with $400,000. He added:
"Contrary to the general belief, the fur-bearing animals in the remote districts of the province are not decreasing. They are simply receding before civilization, being driven further north. The catches during the last few years and so far this season would indicate that furs are still plentiful in the hinterland. The government of Alberta is keenly interested in the development of the industry and is doing everything possible to assist those engaged in it."
Factors of the Hudson's Bay, Revillon Freres and the Northwest Trading companies, which maintain posts in the north country, report that fur-bearing animals are plentiful, but there is no indication that prices for silver fox pelts will be lower.
G. P. Colwell, of St. Johns, New Brunswick, representing the Fundy Fox Farming Co., after spending several weeks in Skagway and Southern Yukon, has decided to locate here where a fox farm will be arranged for and conducted.
Mr. Colwell has purchased from the Government through Crown Land Agent R. C. Miller four acres of land on the flat across the river immediately opposite the long warehouse and just back of where Fore and Aft, the two aged Indians, were quartered last summer, where he will establish corrals for his foxes, the material for which is already here. The inner enclosure of the corral will be of wire which will be sunk in the ground a depth of four feet and which will extend upward from eight to ten feet. Outside of the wire enclosure will be a sort of corridor ten or fifteen feet wide and this will in turn be enclosed with a lumber fence from ten to twelve feet high.
Mr. Colwell was in the lower Yukon country last year where he established a number of agencies and where a number of live foxes have been secured for shipment to this place as soon as navigation is open, by which time the corral will be ready to receive them.
Mr. Colwell, as will be seen by reference to his advertisement elsewhere in this paper, is anxious to secure black, silver grey, as well as cross foxes, for which he is prepared to pay good prices. He has agencies established all over Southern Yukon, Northern British Columbia and Alaska as well as on the lower Yukon and expects to have a good assortment of stock on his fox farm within a few months.
May 2, 1913: G.P. Colwell is running the ad seen to the right, looking to buy live silver and black foxes.
May 2, 1913: "The fact that the Fundy Fox Farming company of St. Johns, New Brunswick, is engaging in business in Whitehorse is a card for this place. With the entire North, Alaska and Yukon, from which to gather stock for the farm, there is no reason why it should not soon have a good start. Fox farming is a prosperous industry in the maritime provinces, but as the finest quality of fur on the continent is found here in the North, there is every reason to believe that the industry will be more profitable here, where the animals will be kept in their native clime, than in the East - where it is necessary for them to become acclimated. G C. Colwell, the young man in charge of the local industry, appears to be thoroughly familiar with the rather unusual business."
May 30, 1913: "Many Young Fox
Carl Faulk Back From Kluane With Sixteen Puppies
Carl Faulk who has the distinction of being the pioneer fox farmer of Yukon, he having started in business at Conrad and Carcross as far back as five years ago, later moving his interests to Carcross where his fox farm is now located, has lately added quite largely to his stock, having left here on Monday morning's train with no less than sixteen young foxes which he secured lately in the neighborhood of Canyon on the Kluane trail about one hundred miles west of Whitehorse. When he left Canyon for this place he had nineteen young foxes, three dying on the way in.
Of the sixteen puppies taken by Mr. Faulk to his ranch, fifteen are of silver grey and cross varieties, the other one being a perfect black and costing Faulk nine hundred dollars. A young Indian known as Canyon Johnny secured nearly all the nineteen young foxes purchased by Mr. Faulk, including the black."
August 15, 1913: "Many Live Foxes
The Weekly Star, April 24, 1914
Over Seven Hundred Lately Captured in Alberta
Edmonton, Alta., Aug. 6. - Seven hundred and fifty-one live foxes, valued at more than $600,000, have been trapped or dug out of their nests in the fur districts north of Edmonton since the beginning of the season. The highest price paid for a pair of black foxes is $20,000. The animals were bought by C. J. Fleming of St. John, N. B., from a half breed Indian trapper at Lac la Bice. T. J. McMann of Edmonton, recently sold 51 fox whelps, all colors, for $26,000 to James A. Kane of Brooklyn, N. Y. who has fox farms in New York and Pennsylvania.
The exportation of live foxes has become so active in northern Alberta that Benjamin Lawton, chief game guardian, has been requested by the provincial government to recommend a close season, the same as there is for other fur-bearing animals. This new law would prohibit the capture of foxes and whelps during the breeding season."
Special attention is called to an advertisement appearing elsewhere in this paper of the Colwell Fur Farms, Limited, a new concern for which incorporation has been applied for and which will have its headquarters in this place. All those comprising the company are prominent officials and business men, all are well and favorably known and they will make of the business an unqualifled success.
G. P. Colwell, the general manager of the organization, is thoroughly conversant with the fox and fur business, having been schooled in the industries in New Brunswick and P. E. I. He left Tuesday on a hurried business trip to both these provinces, New York and Chicago, He will be absent about ten weeks.
In the meantime, other officers of the company are here and are prepared to furnish any and all information to intending purchasers of stock - and that such stock will advance by leaps and bounds is borne out by the history of fox farms elsewhere.
April 24, 1914: "All Are Residents
J.P. Whitney Fox Company
At a meeting held in the office of H. G. Dickson Wednesday night the J. P. Whitney Black-Silver Fox Company, Ltd., of Whitehorse, was organized.
The capital stock was named as being $100,000 in shares of $100 each. As much of the stock has already been subscribed, not to exceed thirty five or forty per cent of it will be for sale. For further particulars and list of officers see advertisement elsewhere in this paper.
Mr. Whitney, the prime mover in the company, will leave on Tuesday of next week for Prince Edward Island where he will acquire "pointers" in fox culture. He will return early in June by which time the company's farm, which will be near Whitehorse, will be ready to be stocked.
It is the object of the Whitney Fox Company to keep the control of it wholly at home and among local people."
April 24, 1914: "Whitehorse, from present indications, gives promise of becoming the center of one of the biggest industries of the present age, that of fox breeding and raising. Already one company has been formed, backed by a number of the most prominent men in the territory, and arrangements are under way for the formation of another which will likely be followed by others in the future. Showings made by similar industries in the east, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Massachusetts, prove the fox business to be one of the best paying of all modern industries. Whitehorse is admirably situated for the fox business, being practically in the center of the greatest fur country on the American continent. The location of a number of fox farms at or near Whitehorse will prove a great stimulus to local trade."
April 24, 1914: the ad seen below to the left was run by M.J. Jewett & Sons of New York, looking to buy raw furs. Below to the right is a prospectus for The Colwell Fur Farms, Ltd. Once the J. P. Whitney Black-Silver Fox Company was established by a group of prominent locals, The Weekly Star largely ignored the Colwell company despite their impressive board of directors.
May 29, 1914: "Foxes, Foxes, Foxes
E. J. Proulx who has been successfully breeding foxes for the past six years and who has a well equipped fox ranch at Carcross, will purchase or board foxes, mink and marten."
July 24, 1914: "Another Fox Ranch
Norman Macaulay, who left yesterday afternoon on the launch Chisana, is taking up a lot of wire and other material for a fox farm which he will establish at Snag. He has advices that his men already had captured sixty foxes, some of great value. Mr. Macaulay has several pedigreed fox hounds with him which arrived a few days ago from Ontario, and which will be used to track the foxes to their holes. They are the first of the kind in the country." Dawson News.
July 24, 1914: "Improving Fox Ranch
J. P. Whitney, merchant and fox man, is erecting a substantial log dwelling bouse on the site of his fox ranch across the river from the lower end of town. It will be used as a home by Chas. Barlow, warden of the ranch. There are now seventeen black foxes on the farm, seven of which are owned by the Whitney company, the remaining ten being boarders and owned by Harry Chambers."
July 24, 1914: "Fine Silver Fox
Ernie Johnson arrived in town Wednesday morning with a beautiful silver fox, very similar to another which he captured three weeks ago and which he sold for $600."
July 24, 1914: "Strange Fox Malady
Fairbanks, July 11 - A strange malady that is carrying off the foxes of the fox farms in this vicinity has made its appearance. Eight of the breeding foxes at the Cicotte ranch near this city have succumbed to the disease, and represents a loss of several thousand dollars. No one appears to know what the disease is or the cause, though by some it is pronounced distemper, but the usual remedies for this trouble have so far proved unavailing, and those engaged in the industry of raising foxes are considerably worried, as in many cases the foxes represent investments of thousands of dollars."
July 24, 1914: "The man in this locality is conspicuous who has no interests in fox farms. It is to be sincerely hoped the disease which has broken out on the fox farms in the Fairbanks locality will not reach here."
September 4, 1914: "First Fox Shipment
Five pairs of foxes from the Colwell Fur Farms were shipped to the outside Wednesday of this week. They were fine animals and in splendid condition as are all the foxes in captivity in this part of the country."
September 4, 1914: "Mrs. Chas. Barlow, whose husband is major domo of the Whitney fox farm, arrived from her home in Tacoma Friday and will spend the winter with her husband here."
September 30, 1914: Fox farming is doing well, and a large number of foxes have been caught and sold.
A Territorial Ordinance was passed this year prohibiting the exporting of any live fox not born in captivity, or which had deen in captivity for at least two years, and also preventing the hunting, killing, or taking of any fox under one year of age, between the 1st April and 1st June. This will, to a great extent, prevent the depletion of foxes in the territory, which would otherwise have occurred through cubs being captured and sold to fox farmers outside the Yukon.
Tagish Jim, an Indian, sold his foxes for $1,000, and bought a gasoline launch. (Report of Supt. J. D. Moodie, RNWMP, Dawson)
October 2, 1914: "Charges Investigated
Acting on request of Commissioner Black, Judge Macaulay yesterday held an investigation of the charge preferred some weeks ago against the Colwell Fox Farms Co. which alleges violation of the Yukon ordinance regulating the exportation of foxes. A number of witnesses were examined. The finding of the Judge will be reported to the commissioner. Hearing of the same case which was to have come before Magistrate Taylor on the 29th of September, was continued until today at 10:30 o'clock, owing to the court room being otherwise occupied."
Aug 27, 1915: "Farms in Yukon
Yukon Territory has many thousands of dollars invested in fine modern fox farms, with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of black, silver and other foxes in captivity. Two fox farms are located at Whitehorse, three at Carcross, one at Tagish, one at Swede creek, one on Dawson hill, one at West Dawson, one at Hootalingua, one on the
Klondike, one at Rampart House, and one in Kluane." (Dawson Daily News)
September 17, 1915: "Off For Teslin
Cam Smith, W. A. Puckett and J. C. Newmarch left Tuesday in the launch Sourdough for Teslin lake. Mr. Puckett is taking with him a couple of fine silver foxes which he intends to leave at Joe Brewers on the Hootalinqua river where he has a mink and fox farm located. The party expect to be gone about a week or ten days."
September 17, 1915: "Sale of Animals
A number of fox and mink, the property of the Colwell Fur Farms, are advertised to be sold at sheriff sale on Saturday of next week to satisfy a judgement obtained against that company in the territorial court recently by John Lauchart."
The Weekly Star, November 26, 1915
November 26, 1915: the Silver Black Fox Farm donates $5 to the Whitehorse Disablement Fund for soldiers.
February 11, 1916: the Black Silver Fox Farm donates $5 to the Whitehorse Disablement Fund for soldiers.
February 25, 1916: "William Cathro, formerly book keeper for the P. Burns Company, is rusticating at the fox farm near McRae in which he is interested with Captain P. Martin. He will take the position of book keeper for Taylor, Drury, Pedlar & Co. the first of the month. His many friends will be pleased to know that he is to remain in Whitehorse."
March 1916: The Minister of the Interior included 6 pages about fox farming in their annual publication "The Yukon Territory: Its History and Resources" - read that article here.
May 19, 1916: "Ed Marcotte, who runs a barber shop in Whitehorse during the day and the balance of the time looks after the inmates of his fox farm on the opposite side of the river from the Regina hotel, is neither a prophet, without honor in his own country, nor the seventh son of a seventh son, a necessary requisite if one desires to become a seer, but simply a dreamer of dreams. He dreamed the other night that his live stock had been increased by three little black fox pups, and upon visiting the enclosure where he keeps his animals the next morning found his dream had become true in part, but the number and color of his new possessions he has not yet been able to ascertain for the mother keeps her progeny securely sheltered from the observation of mankind and will doubtless continue to do so until they are able to run about."
June 9, 1916: "J. E. Marcotte has disposed of his barber shop to R. H. Palmer an old-timer in the north, and gave possession pf the premises to the new owner yesterday. Ed will now look after his fox farm and attend to other matters that demand his attention."
June 9, 1916: "Is Some Trapper
To stalk and catch a fox in the open is a performance to be proud of even though the animal bas been practically raised in captivity. This stunt was pulled off on Tuesday by Ed Marcotte, who owns a fox farm across the river from Whitehorse. Besides several foxes of his own Ed is taking care of several more belonging to Rev. W. G. Blackwell. Tuesday morning when he went over to feed and water the animals he found that a full-grown female cross fox, one of the Blackwell bunch, had made its escape. At 11 a. m. he started out with twelve steel traps which he placed on the surrounding hills at various points and at 7 p. m. the truant walked into one of them and was caught by one hind leg, from which predicament she was released by Marcotte and returned to her former quarters, with no further damage than a slightly bruised leg."
Ca. 1916: the photo seen to the right shows a large fox farm at an unknown location in Alaska. Click on it to greatly enlarge it.
July 28, 1916: "Mrs. (Capt.) Martin and Mrs. Scotland went to Macrae Wednesday to visit the Jacobsen fox farm, of which Captain Martin is one of the stockholders. They expected to remain over night and return Thursday afternoon."
September 30, 1916:" The fox farming has not proved a success so far, most of those engaged in the project have lost money, whilst some have been able to pay expenses, the foxes being still in so wild a condition that in numerous instances they killed their progeny. Most of those in this business are selling off all their stock except those that raised black or silver-grey cubs this spring." (Report of Supt. R. S. Knight, RNWMP, Dawson)
November 10, 1916: "J. P. Whitney yesterday moved his quarters from the fox farm on the other side of the river into town, where he will remain until after the freeze-up."
April 6, 1917: "Furs From Teslin Lake
Wm. Geary, of Teslin lake, partner of W. A. Puckett in the fox farm he is running there, came in Sunday with a two-dog team drawing a sled piled high with packs of valuable furs of various kinds. There was one silver black fox pelt that had been taken from an animal killed in the wild, but the remainder of the fox skins had been taken from those raised in the pens, and a fine lot they are, too. Mr. Geary was accompanied by J. J. Bell who is paying bis first visit to Whitehorse.
Geary and Bell followed down the Hootalinqua river to the 100-mile landing, and striking the winter trail from Livingstone creek followed it to Lake Lebarge and from thence came on into Whitehorse."
April 6, 1917: "Is Awarded Pelt
John Jacobsen Gets Decision In Police Court
Saturday at 11 a. m. the case of John Jacobsen of Macrae against a Montenegrin for the possession of a silver black fox skin claimed to have been removed from the body of a three-year-old female fox that had escaped on the 22d from the pens at Jacobsen's ranch and had subsequently been shot and killed by the Montenegrin about three miles west of Whitehorse, was called in the police court. W. L. Phelps appeared for the plaintiff and C. Racine for the defendant. The Montenegrin claimed that it was a wild fox he had shot, and that therefore its pelt, valued at from $200 to $800, belonged to him. The plaintiff, however, brought three unimpeachable witnesses - Wm. S. Drury, Chas. S. Eisenhauer and Jim Boss - who testified thut on account of the excellent condition which the fox was in when killed it could not possibly have been a wild animal, but must have been confined and fed regularly during the winter.
Police Magistrate J. Langlois Bell disposed of the case by awarding the pelt to the plaintiff, stipulating that Jacobsen should repay the Montenegrin $5.00 which the latter had expended in removing the skin from the carcass of the fox and having it stretched. All costs of the trial were ordered remitted."
July 13, 1917: "Joe Viau, old time Dawsonite, who is working in connection with the Williams Creek copper properties, recently located a fine nest of foxes within 500 feet of the place where the mining work was being done. Two black and four cross foxes were secured, and sent to the Northern Fox Farm here, owned by Dr. J. O. Lachapelle and associates."
July 20, 1917: "Miss K. Martin is at Selkirk, acting as missionary teacher, and is doing very good work. Selkirk is very quiet, the only activities being those of the wood cutters. At Carmacks, the four fox farms are progressing, that of Mrs. F. Back being particularly good. The coal mine is working full blast, but loading operations are hampered by the high stage of water."
August 3, 1917: "COMMUNING WITH NATURE
Wm. Cathro resigned his position as book-keeper in the Taylor, Drury, Pedlar & Co. mercantile establishment on July 1st and took charge of the Martin & Cathro fox farm at Macrae on the 20th."
September 7, 1917: "BRINGS BACK FOXES
The Weekly Star, September 14, 1917
J. E. Marcotte wheeled to Carcross Saturday and returned on Monday's train bringing back with him two female foxes, which he has added to the inmates of his fox farm across the river from Whitehorse."
By Mrs. L. P. Carr
Furs have been worn since Mother Eve, but never was fur more used than today, and the rarest, and most expensive and handsomest fur at the present time is the black and silver fox, the pelts of which average from $1,000 to $2,000 each. Before the war breeders of this variety of foxes were valued at $5,000 per pair. Today, puppies from four to six months old bring $3,000 per pair. The public doubtless thinks the war a good thing in regard to fox farming, as $5,000 was a generous price to pay for a pair of foxes.
Less than 25 years ago a few men who are now looked upon as pioneers in the fox industry started breeding silver black foxes. At that time no one had the slightest conception of the magnitude of the enterprise that has since grown up amongst us through their early efforts.
Yukon and Alaska territories were the first regions in which fox farming was started. Not only is the climate suitable in these territories for the breeding and propagation of foxes, but in addition to this advantage these animals are native to the country, and large numbers of them are caught and trapped annually here, and the shipment of the raw furs to the markets of the world is a steadily increasing and highly profitable channel of trade to those engaged in this business.
There are several successful fox ranchers in Southern Yukon, and some of them are located in the vicinity of Whitehorse. Two of the most up-to-date of these are the J. P. Whitney & Co. Black & Silver Fox Farm and the Whitehorse Silver Black Fox Co.'s farm, both of which raise not only foxes but also rabbits and Belgian hares to feed the foxes. Those who have never visited a fox farm should do so at the first opportunity offered them, for there is no doubt that such a visit would prove both interesting and instructive.
At first fox farming in Southern Yukon did not meet with the success it was expected it would, but with the passing of time, during which the farmers gained experience and insight into the proper feeding and care of these timid animals, the business progressed until now there are quite a number of fox farms in operation in this end of the territory. It has been found in fox farming, as in other pursuits having to deal with animal life, that slovenly methods are not conducive to the best results, and hence a visitor to one of these places need not he surprised to see the scrupulous sanitary condition in which every thing is kept.
Seeing the splendid looking foxes confined in the pens on these farms, one naturally wonders what kind of food is given them to produce such results. Of course, every fox farmer does not use the same food, but as a general thing the animals will eat almost anything that is given them, such as meat, fish, dog biscuits, the flesh of rabbits, fruits and vegetables. Flesh food of all kinds is most always cooked before being given to the foxes.
Tourists passing through the Yukon make the fox farms one of their first places to visit, as the farms are generally located in the outskirts of town or in the nearby bush. It is not a good thing for the people or the foxes to have the farms located within the boundaries of any settlement, for various reasons.
Foxes are highly strung, nervous little animals, and much more so while breeding, and hence it is that these valuable little creatures at this particular period in their existence need extraordinary care and attention.
November 16, 1917: "Capt. P. Martin left on Nov. 2 for a short visit to his fox farm near Macrae station on the White Pass railroad, but through unforseen circumstances his stay there was prolonged for eight days, and he did not reach home until the 10th."
November 16, 1917: "J. E. Marcotte went to Carcross Friday of last week and returned Tuesday, bringing with him a silverblack fox that he had purchased at the Sam Chambers fox ranch at that place."
November 30, 1917: "Charley Barlow, in charge of the J. P. Whitney fox farm about a mile below and across the river from Whitehorse, will leave this morning on a visit to his home in Tacoma, Wash. Mrs. Barlow went out some time ago. Mr. and Mrs. Barlow will return early in the new year. In the meantime Joe Knapp is looking after the fox farm."
Ca. 1918: the two postcards seen to the right, of fox farms near Carcross, were published. Click on each to enlarge the images and see both sides of each postcard.
September 27, 1918: "C. W. Barlow, manager of the J. P. Whitney fox farm near Whitehorse, is casting longing eyes toward his old stamping ground at Tacoma, Wash., and the probabilities are that he may leave for the land of his dreams in the not distant future."
October 18, 1918: "Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Geary, recently of Livingstone creek, have been placed in charge of the J. P. Whitney fox farm, and moved over there from town the fore part of the week."
October 18, 1918: "C. W. Barlow, who had charge of the J. P. Whitney fox farm across the river from Whitehorse for the past two or three years, will leave for his home in Tacoma, Wash., on the 23rd."
August 29, 1919: "Laid Up From Injury
J. E. Geary, in charge of the J. P. Whitney fox farm on the opposite side of the river a mile below Whitehorse, while out in the woods getting in his winter supply of fuel a few days ago had the misfortune to get caught by a falling tree, which nearly broke one of his legs. He has been laid up ever since."
October 10, 1919: "W. A. Puckett expects to leave today on the steamer Thistle for a round trip to the Bill Geary fox farm at the 100 mile crossing of the Hootalinqua river."
January 2, 1920: "Handsome and Valuable Furs
J.E. Geary, manager of the fox farm of the Black-Silver Fox Co. Ltd., of which J.P. Whitney is the president, recently killed 14 of the 34 animals in the company's pens, from which he secured twelve silver and two cross fox skins, all of exceptionally fine quality. These skins were brought over the first of the week and are now at the store of Taylor, Drury, Pedlar & Co., where many people have seen and admired them."
March, 1920: "Fine Lot of Pelts
Wm. Cathro, who recently bought out the interests of his partner, Capt. P. Martin, in the Macrae fox farm, killed off the eighteen foxes with which the place was stocked late in January and has placed the raw furs thus derived in the hands of Taylor, Drury, Pedlar & Co. to ship either to the New York, St. Louis, or London fur markets as they may deem best. Mr. Cathro has closed down the business for a time, and it is likely before he resumes will pay a long deferred visit to relatives in Scotland.
Mr. Cathro, who has studied fox ranching very closely during the last six years, states that his chief reason for killing at the present time is for complete renovation of the pens in order to eliminate entire loss of pups and for the raising of improved stock.
These eighteen skins are either silver black or silver grey, and the consignment is one of the handsomest and most valuable that has ever been shipped at one time from any of the numerous farms in the territory. One of the skins is a magnificent electric silver black, and it would be hard for anyone in Whitehorse to predict how much it will ultimately bring in the open market when put up for sale."
September 3, 1920: "Buys Fox Ranch
J. E. Geary, who has been in charge of the J. P. Whitney Black Silver Fox Co., Ltd., fox ranch across the river a mile below Whitehorse for the past three years, this week bought the interests of Chas. H. Eisenhauer and Mrs. Winnifred Sharp in the Whitehorse Silver Black Fox Co. fox farm, lying in the northern limits of town."
Dawson Daily News, November 27, 1922
August 15, 1924: "Fox Farming In Yukon.
There are now in captivity on the fox ranches of Yukon several hundred silver, black and cross foxes. No better evidence of the high quality of these animals could be given than the fact that for several years now the pelt of ¢ fox from a Yukon farm has been very close to the top of the London market. If we mistake not this year a Yukon pelt took third place. Careful selection breeding and experienced care together with ideal climatic conditions are bringing some of these animals to a high state of perfection. The reputation of the Yukon fox is becoming widely known. Fox fanciers coming into the Territory from time to time are always anxious to visit some of the fox ranches and without an exception they pronounce our foxes the finest specimens they have ever seen. Many of the young foxes have already been bought by outside ranchers for breeding purposes and enquiries for young stock for this purpose are increasing rapidly.
Our ranches have now high grade stock as a foundation. More favorable climatic conditions are not to be found. The fame of the Yukon fox has spread so rapidly and so far that we can command the best prices for our animals for breeding purposes. Although this industry is only in its infancy here its future is assured and it is going to rapidly develop into one of magnitude."
October 9, 1925: "The foundation stock for the blue fox farm of J. B. Adam arrived this week. Two pair were purchased from Walter Alexander of Haynes. J. E. Geary will winter the animals for Mr. Adam."
September 26, 1941: "ESTATE OF ED. MARCOTTE
The Fox Farm located on the east side of the river, comprising a well-
built 2-roomed cabin and five acres of land (more or less.)
Also a 7-tube radio and other articles.
For further particulars enquire at WHITEHORSE STAR"
May 19, 1970: "Fire At Fox Farm
The City Fire Department was called out early Sunday morning to attend a fire burning in the old fox farm on Wickstrom Road, on the east bank of the Yukon River.
A spokesman said that someone had evidently been sleeping in the abandoned tin "tower" building and had built a fire in the hood of an old truck. It got out of control and burned the log timbers on the inside of the building.
No one was injured in the fire, and no one was around when the fire department got to the scene."
June 17, 1970: tentative approval has been given to name the road to the old fox farm just south of McCrae, Fox Farm Road.
November 4, 1981: Don Sumanik Jr. and Rick Scramstad have set up a fox farm on the Mayo Road. They started with 23 foxes bought from a fox farmer in Alberta who had run into financial trouble.
July 21, 1982: Don Sumanik Jr. and Rick Scramstad have their fox farm, with 24 foxes, for sale.
November 8, 1985: an old fox farm site of 169 acres at 4th of July Bay on Atlin Lake is for sale for $115,000. It sold within a month.
July 14, 1988: flooding has caused a lot of damage at Silver City, but so far the historic fox farm has not been affected.
October 13, 1994: the old Proulx fox farm site of 10.12 acres, 1.5 miles south of Carcross on Nares Lake, is for sale for $85,000. It sold in February 1995.
June 13, 1996: a 2-storey log home built in 1914 (see July 24, 1914) at J.P. Whitney's Black Silver Fox Farm was destroyed by fire. It was built to house fox farm manager Charles Barlow. The company closed down in about 1918. The land reverted to the Crown in 1967 ad the house had been unoccupied for many years.