Canadian apple growers were required by the Fruit Marks Act to label fruit with the grower's name, the variety, and the grade of fruit.
Apple labels are not unique to the United States; they were used as a marketing tool in other apple-growing regions of the world, including Canada. Despite its reputation for frigid temperatures, Canada has three significant areas suitable for fruit ranching. The southern portion of the province of Ontario and the Annapolis-Cornwallis Valley in Nova Scotia both continue to grow apples, although on a relatively moderate scale. But the largest of the three Canadian regions is, by far, the Okanagan Valley, located in the interior of the province of British Columbia and defined as the area between Kamloops to the north and Penticton/Osoyoos to the south.
British Columbia's use of fruit box labels after about 1900 was not only a marketing tool, but also, contrary to the state of Washington, it was the law. At the turn of the last century, the provincial legislature passed the Fruit Marks Act, which required all closed packages of fruit to be identified with the grower name, the variety, and the
Some differences between the British Columbia and the American labels can be traced to the continuing connection between Canada and Great Britain. Throughout much of its modern history, Canada was a dominion of Great Britain and today still is a part of the British Commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II reigning as the ceremonial head of the Canadian government. Furthermore, the majority of fruit growers in the Canadian Okanagan Valley were originally of British origin and sent the bulk of their export crops to England. Thus, it is not surprising to see Canadian labels that use imagery familiar to the British buyer, both to exploit these ties and to attempt to obtain a competitive edge over the American exporter. The Buy British Brand label from Duthie and Company and the OP (Okanagan Packers) label claiming British Empire across the top are two examples of this phenomenon. It is interesting to note how closely the OP label resembles the blue O and blue W Wenatchee, Washington, brands, as well as to note that the Buy British Brand label was produced by Duthie and Company, which also had nearly forty labels produced for American growers.
Another variation from standard American labels was size. Many of the early Canadian labels were a bit taller than the United States labels, being up to 10 inches tall as compared to 9 inches for the American label. And some of the smaller Canadian growers used only one color label as background for all grades, as opposed to the common American practice of blue for Extra Fancy, red for Fancy, and green or yellow for the C grade. In addition, some of the pre-1930 Canadian labels, often marked the fruit's origin as Okanagan or British Columbia (or both); after about 1930, such labels mostly just carried the identification "Canadian Apples."
Despite all these variables, however, both Canadian and American fruit box labels did have some similarities. If the labels of both countries carried the phrase, "Not Less Than 40 lbs. When Packed," they can probably be dated from no later than the 1940s. And both countries used the same overall themes—landscapes, the wild West, animals, birds, children, and the like. The growers in both countries, therefore, had the same overall goal in mind—using the colorful box label to capture the buyer's attention and increase sales.