SIR CHARLES DALTON of PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

The following information was provided by DGS member Tom O'Connor, of Hingham, MA. Many thanks to Tom for his efforts in researching their information for Dalton Family members.

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P.E.I. COLLECTION

LIBRARY OF U.P.E.I.

A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

OF

SIR CHARLES DALTON

-FOXMAN-

 by

Robert Allan Rankin

University Of Prince Edward Island

1974

                                      PRESENTED TO PROF.  DAVID WEALE AS

                                      THE UNIVERSITY OF PRINCE EDWARD

                                      ISLAND. 

[Library Notes] P.E.I.

  F        5374.5

            .D3

              R 3

                                                           

[Mr. Rankin went on to complete an M.A. in Canadian History, with a speciality in Loyalist Studies, at the University of New Brunswick. Following this, he went to work for the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation, and was the founder and first editor of  The Island Magazine and has written extensively.]
The following is of a paper, slightly edited by Thomas P O’Connor ;

 A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

OF

SIR CHARLES DALTON

-FOXMAN

-presented to Prof. DAVID WEALE of by student, Robert Allan Rankin in 1974 a requirement for History 492 at,THE UNIVERSITY OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND. Two pictures of the subject, Charles Dalton and a few other items enclosed in square brackets, [**] have been added, tpoc

Sir Charles Dalton
Sir Charles Dalton

 

     

 I

_______________

 EARLY YEARS

A birch beam holds up the southwest corner of an old weathered barn on the Norway Road, near Tignish Prince Edward  Island. Scratched in pencil upon its smooth face are the  discouraged words of young Charles Dalton, a poor hunter-fishermen  who had been trying to breed foxes in captivity.  The year  was 1875:

      "Reds produced Cross Red-Blacks  . . Nothing

   else but Patches.  Killed Crosses . .”

                                      C.D.

Dalton's experiments were motivated by a keen love of the outdoors, a perservering curiousity, and the desire to  increase in numbers an animal otherwise doomed to extinction. Born at Norway on June 9th, 1850, the son of Irish immigrants, Dalton inherited the energy and endurance of the pioneer settler. Like his father before him, he possessed an abiding faith in the future of the land, lived a simple life, and was happy. His education was obtained in the little school at Christopher's Cross and in the surrounding forest. Later in his life, Dalton would fondly speak of those early years:

"As a boy I had an inherent desire to partake of Nature's blessings, which developed more as I advanced in years. I lived adjacent to a body of water called Nail Pond - one of Nature's greatest game sanctuaries where various kinds of wild birds such as geese, brant, and ducks abounded. Otter (now extinct) muskrat and mink were to be found also along this stream and foxes roamed the woods at will....At every opportuniy I indulged my passion for the chase and soon became an expert shot and trapper. The fox was my great objective, and the very name of "black fox” had a romantic attraction for me beyond any other aluremements of sport.....”

The furs which Dalton did manage to procure, did not bring in much money, hardly enough to feed a growing family. His neighbors ridiculed him for chasing after worthless animals, instead of setting to work sensibly to farm the family homestead. In fact, Charles Dalton was not looked upon with any great respect or admiration until he became wealthy. But the young man remained completely preoccupied with hunting and shooting. An old friend tells one story of how Dalton, in a moment of preoccupation, went home from a friend's wake, only to leave his wife standing on the steps of the Church. It was this strange manner of mind which led many people in the district to look upon him as a "good for nothing." Hard- working farmers would say on his passing; "There goes that foolish Dalton into the woods again with his gun.

One fascinating aspect of Dalton's character was the almost spiritual communion he enjoyed with Nature. He refused to rush at anything, a trait which perplexed his friends. They could not understand how he could "hunt" successfully with such'ease and ability. Notes Fred Dawson of Christopher's Cross, “it was as if he had everything figured out.” Dalton's reverence for the natural world probably stemmed from the fact that he spent most of his waking hours discovering its untold mysteries. He was, if you like, a "Worshipper of Nature". When asked why he did not attend Church regularly, Dalton pointed to a spot in the nearby forest and replied; “See that tallest tree over there. Well, that’s my Church.” He always attended his traps before he attended his Mass. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that Dalton was on good terms with the Parish Priest - if only because of his wife's community spirit and the generous financial contributions of later years,

Charles Dalton is rightfully to be credited with having first successfully bred silver-black foxes, the strain which eventually formed the base of the fur-farming industry in Prince Edward Island. But the origins of experimental fox breeding involve other personalities also. The first foxes kept in captivity were dug out of the ground in 1870 at a place called Fox Hill, near North Cape [P.E.I.]. A Caraquet, New Brunswick fisherman had been called from his vessel to fight a brush fire, when he stumbled accross a litter of fox pups hidden beneath an old stump. Dalton later reminisced about this first capture:

"(James Thompson's) foxes were purchased by Mr. Benjamin Haywood of Tignish for five pounds for one (the Island pound was then worth $3.25), and a cow for the other. Mr. Haywood kept them for two years in his barn. They produced a litter of pups, two of which were raised to maturity. Haywood failed to have them produce another litter and finally killed them for their pelts. I bought the two pelts from Mr. Haywood and sold them to Donald Cronan, Halifax, N.S. for $150.00. I then seriously thought the matter over and came to the conclusion that if one litter bred in captivity why, with proper care could they not be bred annually.

Haywood sold his foxes to Dalton for 9 shillings [according to the Morrissey Diary]; therefore, the Norway hunter made an attractive profit on this, his first fox deal. The remaining story of the origins of the fox industry is quite confusing, for it entails dozens of unsuccessful breeding attempts. But through gained experience and luck, the pioneer Dalton finally acquired outstanding breeding pairs. The best account of this acquisition of strain is contained in the diary of Dalton's close friend and associate, Clarence Morrissey of Tignish:

"About 10 years [after Haywood's foxes were sold] Dalton got a pair from Anticosti Island [part of Quebec; a large island in the St Lawrence River.] that was advertised for Sale by a man named Pope. heard would sell for 100.00 and of'fer was accepted and got foxes - female and male from same litter. Bred same and issue was 4 Cross foxes. Next year got a pair from John Martin from Bangor Lot 40 P.E.I. Killed the Anticosti foxes and got for fox pelts 26 - f  lumpsum sale. Litter of Crosses realized 38 shillings. The litter from the 40 Lot foxes gave a litter of 4 Pups. Beauty Silver Pups. Bought 2 pairs from Louis Holland, Bedique[sic][Bedeque, P.E.I.]. The Lot 40 foxes and the Bedique foxes are the true origins of the present Industry ....”

It is also known that Dalton purchased a jet black fox from a man at Lot 6 for fifty dollars. He had high hopes for the subsequent mating, but the issue was five red pups.  "It was my intention", Dalton noted, "to have a pair of the red pups for experimenting but all of them escaped one night. Looking back on these beginnings, Dalton like Morrissey regarded the Lot 40 foxes as the real turning point in the acquisition of breeding stock; "I had been a number of years constantly thinking and endeavoring to successfully farm silver - or black foxes as they were then known- in captivity. But I was not totally discouraged. The pair I got from Lot 40 in 1885, was the foundation of the domestic silver fox.

 Fox breeding was an undeveloped science, and its subtleties revealed themselves only to resourcefulness. and perserverence. Dalton learned early to kill the Cross pups which did not approach certain standards. This practise, wise salutary, became a normal technique used by breeders to direct natural selection. Yet the fox business was for Dalton, still unpredictable. The Lot 40 and Bedique Silvers produced litters for two years. Then, however, the foxes once again stopped breeding.  "That 'convinced me’, remarked Dalton later, "that if I were to make a success out of silver fox farming I must ranch them as nearly as possible under natural conditions.” The 1880's were difficult years for the Dalton family. The Depression was-at work on the Island, as it was in all the provinces of the new Dominion. And in June of 1887, Dalton sold the Norway homestead and purchsed a house in Tignish, hoping to supplement the sale of the odd pelt with income from operating a drug-store/ confectionary. " Dalton's Drugs" sold the drug most prescribed - hard liquor. One did not have to be a trained pharmacist to retail "a little bottle to help with,the ailment", however, Dalton became extremely interested  in Chemistry, and he invested what little spare money he possessed in order to advance his knowledge of the subject. Needless to say, this knowledge must have proved invaluable to him in future years as a pioneer fox breeder. The drug-store, like most everything else in those days, finally went on the rocks! Its proprietor was so desperate at one point that he was refused credit for a five-pound barrel of flour at Myrick's General Store in Tignish. A lad who worked in the store subsequently took his own salary to cover the purchase, a gesture handsomely repaid by the then poor foxman, when the Dalton strain was world-famous. An old account book from the original Myrick's Store, shows that as late as 1889, Dalton's  financial status was grim indeed, as evidenced by the following entry:

"Took large iron safe from Chas.  Dalton on

account. Out of drugstore.            20.00

                            Already owed 18.00

                    Balance on acct.      2.00

Charles Dalton wrote in his retirement:

"In 1890, I entered into an arrangement with Mr. Robert Oulton, who came to Prince Edward Island from Little Shemogue, New Brunswick, and settled on Cherry Island. in Cascumpec Bay, near Alberton. This proved an ideal location for a fox ranch. I took him in as a partner. We had hunted and fished together, and he was altogether a man of my own heart."

Dalton's first real success in breeding silver foxes  as a business dates back to this partnership with Oulton. The latter's patience and clever ideas about ranching the  animals, combined with Dalton's experience and management, -resulted in the Cherry Island ranch becoming a prototype in the developing Industry. The ' Island' location isolated the  foxes from curious neighbors and unwanted guests, and the......[Allan. I Cherry Island, Alberton Harbour, P.E.I.        must have missed your page six.]

In 1897, Dalton built a large ranch near his home in Tignish, but still retained a half-interest in the Cherry Island enterprise. The Dalton-Oulton partnership lasted until 1911, when Robert Oulton moved back to New Brunswick, leaving his son, Russell, in charge of the ranch "The two foxmen had enjoyed an excellent relationship, with "never a harsh word spoken    between them.” Dalton went to see Oulton just before he died. As Dalton was leaving his sick friend, Oulton embraced him and said; "Charlie, I'm not going to live long, but when I die I went to go where you go.” Dalton considered that the finest tribute to be paid  a friend.

Oulton and Dalton had entered into a partnership basically for financial reasons. Experimentation required some capital, and the two men found themselves forced by necessity to take into their privy business, inquisitive friends with dollars in their pockets. They included Captain Gordon of Alberton, Robert Tuplin of the Black Banks, B.I. and Silas Rayner of Summerside. These men constituted what was known as the "Big Six Combine", Together they swore not to sell breeding stock to outsiders, and the Combine was a closed corporation. Dalton's established contacts with London fur buyers enabled him to control the marketing of the district's pelts.

It was only inevitable that sooner or later this compact would break down. Curiousity spread among neighbors. What had brought wealth to these men who had been poor all their lives? The member of the combine who kept his financial situation least confidential was Robert Tuplin. Tuplin was to become a fox pioneer himself, but overnight wealth produced a frenzy within his family. He stored his money in a big oak barrel in the attic, preferring not to trust bankers, and in one year alone, purchased eight Buick automobiles for his children. Robert Tuplin's nephew, Frank Tuplin from Summerside, talked his uncle into selling him a pair of Number 1 breeders in the Spring of 1909. The younger Tuplin made the purchase with $1,000.00 he had borrowed from a local photographer After a winter of successful mating, he began selling live foxes to anyone interested, at a price of $10,000.00 a pair. The "Combine" was broken and, from that point on, the Silver Fox Industry mushroomed. Prices rose steadily until the outbreak of War in 1914, reaching a peak value of $35,000.00 for a pair o breeders.

Charles Dalton's material riches after 1900 were in sharp contrast to his personal tragedy. The family, now twelve in number, was struck by an epidemic of tuberculosis in 1906. Seventeen-year-old Florence and ten-year-old Irene fell victim to the deadly disease, while sixteen-year-old Patrick was left disabled by it. During these years of both comfort and anguish, the Daltons lived in Tignish and Charles continued to hunt, fish and breed foxes.

There appears to be a conflict of opinion as to whether or not Charlie Dalton was a "miser". People certainly could have gotten that impression by the way he dressed. It was not uncommon for Dalton to show up at a wake dressed in "rags'. "He had a lot of money", remembers a friend, "but he didn't value it very much He-was not a braggart, nor did he boast about his wealth." On the other hand, many Tignishers and especially residents of Nail Pond, thought him to be mean and a hoarder of money. But the philanthropy of later years must support the former belief that Dalton was not a miserly person. There is no actual known record of exactly how much money Charles Dalton made breeding foxes, though he retired a self-confessed 'millionaire' in 1914. Nevertheless, the account sheet presented below, of Furs on consignment for Dalton in 1910, by C.M. Lampson and Co. London, Gives some idea of the exorbitant profits he made.

Dalton sold his Tignish Ranch in 1912 to a Charlottetown-based company: The Black Beauty Foxes were transported by rail from Tignish to the site of the new ranch at Southport, near the capital. History has named the train the "Million Dollar Black Fox Special”. The purchasing company capitalized at $650,000 and the train itself was said to have brought the figure to the million dollar mark. Dalton's estimate, however is some-what more modest. "I was paid", said the foxman, $400,000 in cash and given $100,000 in shares of the company. "In any event, it was an extraordinarily valuable cargo. The baggage master of the Million Dollar Train, A.B.(Andy) Bagnalll recalled in the Guardian many years ago:

"All night the priceless animals had been guarded by two men armed with revolvers. They caught the previous day, placed in boxes, or crates, and taken to the freight shed.   The train left Tignish at nine in the morning of November 8th. On Board were Charles Dalton, a Dr. Lundie and W.B. Prowse who was the secretary-treasurer of the company making the purdhase.Three armed men rode shotgun along the route.”

The Southport Ranch was modern in every way boasting such inovations as electric lights and a pressure water system to prevent fire. It was even connected with the city of Charlottetown by telephone. Dividends of 40% were paid the shareholders of the company in its first year of operation, representing a production of 44 pups, averaging at $12,000.00 pair. Disaster struck the next year. Although crop-wise, the biggest the Industry had ever experienced, the declaration of War in August had a crippling effect upon sales. For the Southport Ranch,, however, it was production which hampered profits. As Dalton explained; "the move to Southport, a strange caretaker and other factors [not described] made the breeding season of 1914 a most disappointing one.

Charlie Dalton sold his entire fox holdings in November of 1914, as if anticipating the collapse of the Industry. He stated in a speech later that he "foresaw what was coming." In fact, Dalton's awareness of scientific discovery might very well have included developments in the art of dying. It would not be long before the black fur could be produced from the red, at a cost far below breeding. Dalton was also conscious of "the vagaries of style and fashions", a factor which greatly influenced the decline of the Fur Industry on the Island and elsewhere.

II

_____________________________

POLITICS AND PHILANTHROPY

At the age of sixty-four years, when most men looked forward to a quiet retirement, Charlie Dalton had already started on another career, as a legislator and promoter of viable enterprises. First elected to the provincial House Assembly in 1912 as the representative from First Prince, he served in the Government of Conservative Premier J.A. Mathieson. The Minister without portfolio was re-elected in 1914 but went down to defeat at the hands of the Liberals two years later, and subsequently retired from politics. Dalton the politician was rather unassuming and away from the limelight. His advice , however. was continually sought by those in government who recognized wisdom and intelligence. Dalton's great gift to the people of Prince Edward Island was the establishment of the Sanitarium at North Wiltshire, for the care and treatment of sufferers of tuberculosis - the same desease that had robbed him of two daughters. The magnificient hospital containing the most up-to-date medical equipment, cost Dalton some $70,000.00. What a pity that it was in operation for only a mere six months. The story of the Wiltshire Sanitarium is an embarassing story of Island  politics,"Upon the completion of the building, the Government took it over as a home for convalescent soldiers during the war. It was enlarged to serve this need. When the war had ended the Sanitarium was to have been turned  ovver to the-Province. But the Government of the day liberal Premier Bell refused to accept responsibility for the operation of the facility and it-reverted back to its benefactor. Later the Wiltshire Sanitarium was scrapped and the generous offering of a native Islander became history. The denouement came with the construction of another Sanitarium within the limits of the city in 1933. Unlike its predecessor, the Charlottetown sanitarium was poorly-staffed and lacked adequate equipment.

Wartime Prince Edward Island brought out the patriotism in Charlie Dalton. In 1915, he donated to the Red Cross a fully-equipped Ambulance. Once more, he offered to drive it himself to the front, a sincere request by a man old in years but a specimen of health. Dalton's request  was turnned down unfortunately because of his age, and the courageous gentlem was deeply hurt. Nevertheless, he did assist the War effort as best he could by urging young men to enlist and by speaking at "help the troops" gatherings throughout the Province. The founder of the Silver Fox Industry-was supremely honored by the Vatican in 1917, when Pope Pius XXIII knighted him 'Command St. Gregory the Great'. Dalton travelled to Rome to accept the title and while in Europe toured the Holy Lands.

Dalton's second major donation was the construction of Dalton Hall at Saint Dunstan's University [Now The University of PEI.] in Charlottetown in 1919. Though not a university graduate himself, Sir Charles placed a high value on education achieved formally.  His two sons, Howard (M.D.) and Gerald (B.A., BSc.), were both graduates of S.D.U. Gerald continued his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was to become a distinguished aeronautical engineer in the field-of ‘hydrofoil’ design.

Immediately following the cessation of European hostilities the Daltons moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, where Sir Charles had purchased a large estate. There is good reason to believe that Dalton was unhappy away from the Island he loved. For during the few years spent at Brookline, he made more than frequent migrations, back to his favorite hunting spots. It was on one of these trips back home around which a legend has been created. The summer was 1922 and Dalton, then 72 years of age, had entered a shooting contest with Tignish ace-shooter George Profit, at Hughes’ Field on the outskirts of the village. At this time, clay pigeons were just becoming popular and Dalton had never shot them before. When it was the old man's time to shoot he quickly raised his rifle to his shoulder and, to the astonishment of those present shattered five birds as fast as they could be launched! It was an incredible bit of shooting. Sir Charles simply smiled at his competitor, who then refused to shoot, and walked away chuckling to himself. On July 12th, 1929, Dalton was formally honored by the Canadian National Silver Fox Breeders Association , at a banquet in Summerside. The foxman was presented with a model of a silver fox and a plaque whose inscription read; "In grateful recognition of valued services to Canada in organizing and developirg the Silver Fox Industry.” Principal speaker at  the event  was a native Islander, the Hon. Dr. Cyrus MacMillan, later to be named Federal Minister of Fisheries, Dr. MacMillan said of Dalton:

......he was the product of pioneer..... ancestor, without riches and without accumulation of the worldly goods. They belonged, however, to God's toiling aristocracy, men and women to whom life was no day dream, but real and hard, disciplinary, and full of meaning. That tradition was the strongest inheritance he received.''

Life did not  cease to have meaning for Dalton in his old age. On the contrary, the sportsman spent every available minute basquing in Nature's pleasures. His 'Meeca’ was a tract of marsh land separating Nail Pond from the ocean. About one mile in length and merely 200 yards wide, the land became for Dalton a personal sanctuary, just as it did for the wild geese and other animals which inhabited its bleakness. On it the foxman "experimented" with growing 'wild rice' - first time such a crop was tried on the Island. The geese flocked to Dalton's feeding grounds and the sanctuary flourished with life. Sir Charles was now in his late seventies, but looking and acting as if he were invincible!

People of the district can recall the old man  going down to the marsh with his horse and wagon to plant the slender stalks of rice in the shallow water which  kept the sanctuary semi-submerged. It was an icy job in  the Fall of the year, one which demanded stamina of body and  a love for the 'wilderness' of things. On returning from one of these excursions to the marsh Dalton stopped at the house of a neighbor to warm himself. The neighbor asked  if he was chilled. The white-haired man went to the doorway and looking towards his wagon said; "My blood is still moving, my soul is not yet weary, but I guess I froze the dog." Episodes similar to this took place until his accidental death in 1933. Another neighbor, Mr. Gerald Handrahan, remembers Dalton walking back to the woods with his gun in  the middle of a snowstorm. "He would", contends Mr. Handrahan,  "remain in the woods all day, whatever the weather, then re-appear once again in the evening. He rarely came out empty- handed.”

[An anecdote from Tom O’Connor’s files:

Marie Wade Wilkie, a grand niece, (b. Oct 10, 1905 in Kildare, PEI) now (Jan 2000) [died 2002] in a nursing home in Braintree Massachusetts used to tell the story showing he was still a country-boy in his old age. He loved to put on his old clothes and wander on his farm and the nearby shore. Once when some distinguished visitors came to the farm to see him and asked for his whereabouts they were told, ‘He's was down by the shore.’

After awhile the visitors returned saying, ‘There's no one down there but some poor old beachcomber.’

‘That's Sir Charles,’ was the response.” ]

Sir Charles Dalton was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Prince Edward Island on November 29th 1930. It was but the official recognition of a simple man whose perserverence, intelligence and kindness had been blessed by luck, and the Will of God. Observed the Guardian: "No representative of His  Majesty the King could be more deserving the honor and esteem.....of the position, or more conscientious in the discharge of  its responsible duties .....” Dalton assumed the Governorship at the ripe age of eighty years, but without any signs of failing, either phyically or mentally. He attended Governmental functions with regularity and delighted at stumping some expert mathermetician with a problem he had created. When  not engaging in these activities, Dalton either took to the outdoors or settled into an evening's study of an English Classical Novel. It was during Dalton's stay at Government House that he bestowed upon his own Parish of Tignish, the Dalton Normal School. At time of its construction in 1930, the school was of monumental importance to the community. Sir Charlie was fully aware of that significance, and the Dalton School stands today [1974] as a tribute to him.[Now in 2000, sadly replaced by a new Museum and Community House which fortunately includes a tribute to Sir Charles (and Chester Morrissey).

    Sir Charles Dalton [1850 - 1933]

The sudden death of Gerald Dalton in a boating accident at Key West, Florida in 1932, disheartened the old foxman. His son had been more to him than flesh and blood. He had been his best friend. Sir Charles invested heavily in Gerald's research when the youth showed ability to "pioneer" his own field. They had taken trips together, often, and usually out of common interests. The son's tragic death left the father spiritless and lost. Sir Charles Dalton very seldom left his residence during-those last few months in office. Then, while walking along an icy pathway in Victoria Park one afternoon he slipped and fell. Dalton never recovered from the accident. He developed pneumonia and, after a few days suffering, died on Saturday December 9th, 1933. How ironic that it had been the first and last time Dalton was ever confined to a sick bed.

No doubt the best epitaph to the death of Sir Charles Dalton was penned by the editor of the Charlottetown Guardian:

"The late Lieutenant-Governor was what has so often been described as a self-made man, and his kindness of heart was proverbial.....He was one of Nature's gentlemen, and never would willingly hurt the feelings of anyone or Permit an unkindness tobe done in his presence.

Dalton was accorded a full State Funeral in the capital on December 11 th The service, conducted by Rt. Rev. Monsignor MacLellan, contained this appropriate eulogy:

"Life to Sir Charles..... was no mystery ..... He realized, furthermore, that we are only the stewards of the goods of this world that come into our possession, and that we shall have to render an account of our stewardship to God who gave them to us.These were the high motives that governed his life and guided his every effort.....”

A simple ceremony in the bosom of the country he cherished put Charlie Dalton to rest. And he was buried in the old [St. Simon and St Jude] Parish Graveyard at Tignish, across the road from the rickety fox pens that etched for him a legendary place in Island History.

III

_______________________

THE LEGEND

Sir Charles Dalton looms large in any social and economic history of Prince Edward Island. His rise from humble birth to riches practically overnight is, in itself, sufficient to have made the man a legend in his own time. But the 'isolation' of his experimental breeding and the sense of 'creation' which surrounded it, attaches to Dalton the pretense of 'romance' and 'mystery'. The Fox Industry was independent of and did not-effect any other Industry in the Province.

The legend of this fox pioneer is, however, more than a of economic phenomenom. it is the portrait of an unusual individual and his environment! What is so unusual is that the individual lived in complete harmony with his environment, and moulded a 'freedom' through integration with it. This spiritual attachment with Nature gave Dalton the patience and understanding to unlock one of Her secrets - natural selection as applied to the domestic breeding of Silver Foxes. It is this scientific discovery which is a historical fact, and forms the basis of any Dalton Legend.

It is also not uninteresting that the legend of Charlie Dalton differs in its interpretation from one place to the other. Present day residents of Tignish village speak of him firstly as a benefactor, of the "great things he did for the community,” pointing naturally to the still [1974 ]used Dalton School [Since repaced by a new school.]. The people of nearby Nail Pond, however, claim there is no "magic” about Charlie Dalton. They think it not uncommon for a man to be termed a "Worshipper of Nature". Any man who takes his living off the  land or from the sea, they say is of that kind. And so,the legend makes its way into the towns.

Summerside and Charlottetown of the early 1930's were both growing quite rapidly, obtaining a character entirely different from that of the outlying Countryside. In fact, the "hicks" and the '-town-boys" could always be told apart. Hence, the people of these Island centres, in their relative urbanity, saw Dalton as a "pioneer" of almost mystical qualities. They allowed their legend of the man to grow into anything which offered an explanation to "Nature" and the "life forces" they had never experienced, or had forgotten.

Is there then a correct and incorrect legend of Dalton the Foxman? Of course there is not. Still we must respect a certain continuity as dictated by the "extraordinary" personality of the man. Many attributes are beyond suspicion or disagreement. No one disputes the fact that Dalton was an expert hunter and rifle shot. Fewer dispute his uncanny way with animals, his ignorance and lack of concern for 'time', his unhurried disposition, his congenial manner. And the material gifts he bestowed upon the people of Prince Edward Island seem to speak well for his kindness.

Sir Charles Dalton represents that ‘perservering enterprise’ and 'understanding of Island life’ which today appears impossible to combine.  Perhaps that is why we remember him!

[Sequel by Tom O’Connor

The silver fox business did suffer a serious blow with the beginning of the war in 1914 but it did not die. In fact up until World War II wire fox pens were familiar sites in the P.E.I. countryside. In May of 1926 a publication of the; American Fox and Farmer includeds an article entitled; A Correct Account of the Beginning of the Fox Industry by, C.F. [Chester] Morrissey in which he writes,

“....When the war was over, and conditions became normal, the fox business again took its place with other sound business enterprises and today ranks as one of the leading branches of the world’s greatest industries. The amount realized in the present year, 1925, on P.E.Island for live foxes was $1,500,000 and fox pelts were $1,250,00 making a total of $2,700,000.......Dalton again bought the Tignish ranch from the Company where he now breeds the finest quality of Silver Black foxes......”

Another publication, a Forty-five page booklet by The Itasca Siver Fox Co. of Vinton, Iowa, USA a Member of the American National Fox Breeders Association includes a letter written in 1926 by Sir Charles to Hamilton Tobin Esq. Headed by;   A LETTER FROM SIR.CHARLES DALTON is below. Both these publications can be found in the Alberton Museum, Alberton, PE


        Hamilton Tobin, Esq.            Tignish, 24 Nov., 1926.

        Hawkeye Itasca osilver Fox Co., Vititon, Iowa, U. S. A.

        Dedr.Mr. Tobini

I am today shipping you by express, twenty-two pure sil-

        ver foxes of my own strain, all Canadian National registered,

        of course.  As you have always insisted on my shipping you

        only genuine old Island blood foxes, referred to as the Pure

        Dalton Strain, I have carefully inspected the ranch record in

        each instance, with this point in mind.  My name is back of

        the pedigree of every fox sent you.  No foreign or imported

        blood has ever 'been bred into any of these animals.

As you know from conversations we have had on the sub-

        ject, my,first partner in the business was the late B. T. Oulton,

        and my next was James Rayner.  For this reason our foxes

        have sometimes been referred to as Dalton-Oulton and later as

        Dalton-Rayner strain, although all from my original stock.

        However, this does not mean that outside blood has been crossed

        in. Sorting out the choice 'animals'for breeding was the point

        of success in keeping up the good strain.  This is the method I

        have followed in all cases.

     In this shipment are a number of unusually fine specimens.  

         I have placed them in pairs that I thought most suitabla for

        breeding. Knowing that you are a good judge of foxes, I wish

        you would examine each one in this shipment and write me

        your opinion. As usual I have personally inspected the for

        for qualithy; and have had them all examined by a veterinarian,

        and all are well furred, of clear colour, and in good health.

        I here make a promise, that after one year, if any of your

        customers are not satisfied with any one or more of the foxes bought

        from you, and if shipped to me in good condition, Iwill replace

        it with a good fox of the same sex.

        In crate 3, you will find a male that    I think is a perfect

        beauty, that sired a fine litter for me last spring, The younger

        animals in the shipment aro all choice selections.  In crate 7 the

        pair is one year old and had'a litter of four, 2 males and 2 fe-

        males.  In crate 2 is my best pair of breeders.  They are three

        years old and last spring raised a litter of five, 4 males and 1

        fmale; in 1925 they raised a litter of 'six, I male and 5 females;

        and in 1924 their litter was four, I male and 3 females.

  Since you are my only American representative, I hope you

        will see fit to keep the strain pure, at least in these proven

        breeders from my old original Tignish ranch, as they are my

        very best breeding stock.  It might be well to ask your custom

        ers to do likewise, as I have found that nothing excels the pure

        Island blood.  Am reserving the same quality shipped you, for

        breeders on my ranch next season, but cannot supply you with

        many more pairs this fall, as I must retain enough to keep my

        ranch Well stocked at mating time.

  I will be very anxious  to hear from you. Meantime I re-

        ain yours truly,                       Chas. Dalton.]

 

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