Archive | August 2012

Arrival in Canada

The SS Doric of the White Star Line

Courtesy of the Norway Heritage Collection –

It was Grandpa’s second son, Bert, who convinced the family to come to Canada.  They travelled on the SS Doric of the White Star Line arriving in Quebec City on April 26, 1926.  My father was twelve years old. They were the largest single family to make the journey—even though they had left the three oldest children in England.

John Bernard Turner and Sarah Jane Turner with the seven of their ten children who came to Canada: Bernard, George, Ivy, Joan, (age 3) Eunice, Eric and Bert.

From Quebec City, they continued the journey west and settled on a farm in the Cordova district in Manitoba. They later moved to Mentmore.  Mentmore, and Cordova are rural districts in south-west Manitoba.  Each had a small centre of sorts at the location of the railway stop where there was a grain elevator and a post office/general store. The nearest towns of any size were Neepawa  and Minnedosa.

Click on View Larger Map to see the relationship of Mentmore to Neepawa and Minnedosa.

It was Bert, as well, who lured his parents to Vancouver when they decided to retire from farming.  This time only Joan went along.  Eric and George, Eunice, Ivy and Bernard (my Dad) had all married by this time and stayed in Manitoba.


Grandpa & Grandma Turner in their garden in Vancouver, 1942


A Trip to India?

My father inherited a wicker trunk from his father.  And the story was that the wicker trunk (called a skip) had travelled all the way to India and back, for it was the skip my grandfather used when he travelled in the entourage of the Prince of Wales on his voyage to India.  This Prince of Wales was the eldest son of Queen Victoria, and later became King Edward the VII.  It was supposedly on this trip that Grandpa acquired his taste for curry.

Русский: Albert Edward Prince of Wales

Albert Edward Prince of Wales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, quite some time ago I checked out the date of the Prince of Wales’ visit to India (1875) and realized that Grandpa was only 8 at the time.  Too young, even in an era when children often began working young.  Furthermore, the position of page to the Prince of Wales was not likely an honour open to a working-class lad from Lancashire. I expect my grandfather was simply fantasizing from the media reports of the tour.

This antique wicker skip is a reasonable facsimile of Grandpa Turner’s.

The skip stayed with us through all our travels until we moved into 1426 York Road in Burlington, Ontario.  Dad put it in a shed in the back yard and there it stayed (except for a few weeks when my sister put it on top of the building as shelter for an injured pigeon she was caring for.)  One day we discovered that a nest of hornets had made a home in it, and it was dragged out and burned.  It was sad to lose that memento of our history even if the trip to India was pure fiction.

An Archbishop in the family tree??

By all accounts my paternal grandfather was a jolly fellow and a great story-teller. Sometimes, apparently, it was difficult to tell when a story was just a story.  Certainly my Aunt Eunice was convinced this story was true, though her older brother, my Uncle George, told me long ago it was just one of the old man’s tall tales.

But here is how I heard it from Aunt Eunice.

Grandpa was the son of Lady Veronica Tait of Canterbury.  Lady Veronica was the youngest daughter of Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1868-1882.

English: Archibald Campbell Tait (1811-1882)

English: Archibald Campbell Tait (1811-1882) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Logan is listed on my grandfather’s death certificate as his mother, and surely, she was the only mother he ever knew.  But when my Aunt Ivy gave it to me, she insisted Mary Logan was his stepmother, not his birth mother.

Aunt Eunice, believing the story to be true, even got in trouble at school for claiming the Lady Veronica was her grandmother.  But her mother came and told the teacher that Aunt Eunice was telling the truth. Did my grandmother believe the story too?  I’ll never know.

What is certain is that the story is not true. Eunice’s daughter, Verla, and grandson, Wade, did a genealogical study and discovered that the Lady Veronica could not have been more than 11 when Grandpa was born and only 7 when his older brother was born.  They did discover the Archibald Campbell Tate, father of Ann Tate who married my grandfather’s grandfather back in 1809.  So Grandpa could legitimately claim descent from an Archibald Tate and I can imagine him referring to the similarly named Archbishop as his grandpa.

Interestingly, Archbishop Tait’s prior post was Dean of Carlisle, the place my maternal grandfather came from. It was while serving at Carlisle that he lost five of his seven children all in a few weeks to an epidemic of scarlet fever. Only the eldest, his only son, and the youngest, a two-month old daughter, survived.

The grave of Dean Tait's five young daughters ...

The grave of Dean Tait’s five young daughters – – 1506954 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grandpa Turner

John Bernard Turner, 1867-1944

John Bernard Turner, 1867-1944

I never knew Grandpa Turner. The old folks, together with Uncle Bert and Aunt Joan, moved to the west coast sometime in 1941, several months before my birth. Grandpa passed away in February 1944, just a few weeks before I turned two. One of my earliest memories related to him is the picture of his gravesite.

His full name was John Bernard Turner. He was the second son of John William Turner and the grandson of another John Turner. It was his grandfather who married Ann Tate, daughter of Archibald Campbell Tate, in 1809. And thereby hangs a tale.

John Bernard was born on Sept 13, 1867 in Manchester, England, and the family had several addresses in Lancashire before he emigrated to Canada in April 1926. His father was a florist in Liverpool and a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Perhaps this explains John Bernard’s love of gardening.  At the time my father, Bernard Theodore, was born, their residence was in Preston.

His granddaughter Verla wrote this recollection of him:

One of the things I always remember about Grandpa was that he never wore a belt; he always held up his pants with binder twine. He was an older gentleman when he came to Canada, so while the younger members of the family farmed, he did the farm chores. He cared for his large garden which he loved to do as he had been a gardener in the old country. When his temper flared, he would take out his anger on his garden. I used to tell him he had such a beautiful garden because he was always mad at Grandma. I remember him as a strict man, but gentle and cheerful.