For Pleasure or Profit

Gladys Ballantyne’s talk, sponsored by the Whaletown Women’s Institute and given in the Whaletown Church Hall, concerned the possibility of growing peonies as a source of independent income for women living on the coast in the recession years following World War I. In the 1920s, the population of Cortes Island was approximately 500 and logging, fishing and farming were the main occupations. The Union Steamship called twice a week to take passengers and island products such as eggs, produce, and game to Vancouver and to bring passengers and supplies back.

Gladys suggested that peonies could be grown for both “pleasure and profit.” She saw the peony as a suitable horticultural product for island women to grow commercially, since the blooms pack and ship well, and the divided roots and seedling plants could also be sold. Given the transportation to market available to residents at that time, the peony with its good keeping qualities would fit well with twice a week shipments.

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