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The 1940s – The War Effort

Black and white photo of three women inside a fruit packinghouse. The woman in the foreground is wrapping an apple in tissue.

Women at work in the Woodsdale packinghouse, 1944

World War II caused worldwide pain and suffering. The war also brought Canada fully out of the Depression and created more opportunities for the belles.

In Lake Country’s packinghouses, the applebox belles began to take over some supervisory positions as men went away to fight. The belles gained experience and became comfortable with the added responsibility. However, in most locations this was just a temporary promotion until the men returned.

Black and white photo of four women standing outside. They are wearing pants and have their arms across each other's shoulders.

Inez Patterson Kenney (2nd from right) with three other belles at the Vernon Fruit Union packinghouse

Inez Patterson began working at the Vernon Fruit Union in Oyama in 1936 while attending business college.  After graduating, she moved to Ottawa where she managed the secretarial pool for the Department of National Defense. She met and married Art Kenney, and in 1947 they settled in Oyama. Inez returned to packinghouse work, first at the BC Shipper’s packinghouse and then at the Vernon Fruit Union. Inez worked at all sorts of jobs at the packinghouse. Her career included working as a sorter, packer, stamper, checker, and secretary where she was responsible for shipping, receiving, orders, payroll, and other office duties.

View this video with a transcript: Inez Patterson Kenney, narrated by Bill Kenney

Black and white photo of a wooden building with the words

The Vernon Fruit Union, Oyama, 1940