Deep River Fur Farm ceased operations some 60 years ago. This web site is a collection of memories and stories from the past. Please do not submit requests for employment, purchase of fur animals, or advice on fur farming.
Aerial view of Deep River Fur Farm. Photograph late 1960s - 70s.
Click on the picture to see a video of Deep River Fur Farm.
Deep River Fur Farm, was established by Halvor Ausland in 1925. He moved to this location after many
years of trapping on the Mudjatik River, in northern Saskatchewan. The fur farm was located on the north shore of the Churchill River, approximately twenty-four miles from the small native community of Ile-a-la-Crosse. The official name for that section of the Churchill River was MacBeth Channel, however, it was known locally as Deep River. At that time, it was an area rich with timber, moose, deer, and various fur-bearing animals, a trappers paradise. There was plenty of fish, for both commercial fishing purposes and mink ranching. The mink were fed a mixture of fish, various commercial mink meals, even porridge and goat milk. A herd of some twenty-five goats were kept for this purpose. It was a very nutritious, balanced diet and led to the production of very high-quality fox and mink pelts. When he first arrived at Deep River, Mr. Ausland lived in a tent and cleared enough timber to build a rudimentary log cabin. Eventually, some ten acres of land was cleared and a large comfortable log house was built. During this time, trapping and commercial fishing were Halvor Ausland's primary occupations. As can be seen in the photographs (left and right), he was quite successful in his trapping endeavours.
Then in 1929, he purchased three mink in Manitoba, a male and two females. One of these animals can be seen in the pens in the background of the photograph on the right. He also purchased three mink from Harvey McDonald, the local Hudson Bay Company manager. The Hudson Bay's Company would not allow employees such as Mr McDonald, to raise mink. Mr Ausland then bought out a mink ranch at Ormeaux, Saskatchewan, this consisted of 16 mink. He also purchased silver foxes, platinum, white-faced and blue foxes from Greenland, however, he quit raising foxes when prices for fox pelts dropped. Halvor Ausland raised mink at Deep River until the 1960s. He then sold the ranch to George Williams, an automobile dealer from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Mr Williams operated the mink ranch until the 1970s. However, when fur prices made mink ranching unprofitable, he ceased operations. Today, Deep River Fur Farm is abandoned and is rapidly being overgrown with trees (above right). In a few short years, nature has reclaimed the property that took a lifetime to build. If you passed within a few feet of the place, you would never know it had ever existed. Memories of Deep River are all that are left and fond memories they are. This web-page is dedicated to the memory of Halvor Ausland and Deep River Fur Farm and all of the people who lived and worked in the area. Today, most of the old-timers have passed on and a new generation has taken over. They have very little knowledge of what transpired in the area. As time goes by everything will be completely forgotten. Never again will there be such a group of self-reliant individuals in the North.
From humble beginnings (left) First buildings at Deep River 1925-26 (right)
Mrs. Ausland and daughter Marge (centre).
New log house at Deep River left and right.
Mr. and Mrs. Ausland and children, employee.
Ausland Girls (L-R) Mary, Irene, Ann, Marge, Mrs Ausland is standing in the doorway
photograph was taken in the late early 1930s.
First mink in 1929 (left).
Mink pens in the late 1930s.
Mink and Fox pens, Ann (left) and Marge Ausland in foreground.
Mink ranch in the early and mid 1940s.
Mink sheds in the mid 1950s (left)
Mink sheds in 1943 (right)
In the foreground, on the right, Rene Massery and
Celestine Mccallum unloading hay for mink bedding.
Mink waiting to be fed 1950s. A view of Deep River in the 1950s.
Mink sheds in the late 1950s.
Mink sheds in the late 1960s.
Orange mink, this strain of mink was developed by Halvor Ausland
from this one natural wild mutation mink.
This mink was caught by a trapper and sold to Mr. Ausland in the early 1950s.
Halvor Ausland holding the same mink in the 1950s. (right)
Orange mink on left - Feeding mink on right.
White and black cross mink.
Silver fox fur grading at the New York Fur Auction Sales, New York - 1950s.
Rene Massery with mink ready for pelting. (right)
Halvor Ausland holding mink pelts in the 1940s.
Platinum fox in pen.
Mary (left) and Marge Ausland at Deep River late 1940s.
(l-r) Mary, Marjorie, Halvor and Ann Ausland,
in the garden at Deep River, Circa 1943.
Dawn at Deep River
Location of Deep River Fur Farm, now overgrown with trees.
If you passed within a few feet of the location you would never know it had ever existed.
Photograph was taken in July 1996.
A view of Deep River as it looked in July of 1996.