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Packing Schools

Black and white photo of four women and eleven men, each standing at a packing station along one side of four tables. Each table has a burlap centre filled with apples from which they select an apple, then wrap and place it in a raised box in front of them.

Kelowna Farmer’s Exchange packing school, 1914


Sepia paper certificate numbered 882, The Government of the Province of British Columbia, Department of Agriculture Fruit Packing School Certificate. Dated at Victoria this 5th day of August, 1918. Signed (on the bottom right) by M. J. Middleton, Provincial Horticulturalist and Inspector of Fruit Pests, and by J. W. Gibson, Director of Elementary Agricultural Education. Stamped signatures (on the bottom left) of Hon. John Oliver, Minister of Agriculture and W. E. Scott, Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Packing School Certificate

In 1913, Mrs. Gertrude Pettman sought work in a Kelowna packinghouse. When she was refused work due to her lack of experience, Mrs. Pettman urged the government to hold packing school classes in Kelowna. At the time, fruit packing was not considered acceptable work for women and class enrollment did not meet the required minimum. Undaunted, Mrs. Pettman persuaded members of the local Women’s Institute to join the class, which ran in the winter of 1914 at the Kelowna Farmer’s Exchange.

In Lake Country only a few women attended a formal packing school. Instead, the belles taught themselves through watching and learning from an experienced packer or they had a mentor who showed them the proper way to pack.

Three part photograph of a booklet. The left section shows the red booklet cover, titled Modern Methods of Packing Apples and Pears, by A. McNeill, Chief, Fruit Division. Published by Direction of the Hon. Martin Rurrell, Minister of Agriculture, Ottawa, Ont., June 1913. Black and white photo top right shows a man wrapping an apple in tissue. Black and white photo lower right shows six packed apple boxes with apples packed in different patterns.

Modern Methods of Packing Apples and Pears, 1913