Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tenacious Turner

This is a 1914 picture of the Grandview School #1 at the corner of 1st and Commercial Drive. The photographer credited with the photo is Philip Timms. The school was built in 1905 and demolished in the 1950s.
This is that corner today. The school was replaced with a Super Value store that lasted until 1985 when it was replaced by the current building.

When John Turner resigned as premier, it brought an end to the Victoria based political dynasty that had ruled British Columbia. Turner's defeat also showed the structural changes in the province's economy.

The Canadian Pacific Railway had been completed in 1885 and ultimately led to the ascendency of Vancouver over other coastal cities and by the turn of the 20th century, the economic centre of gravity had shifted from Victoria to the mainland. 

Turner became leader of the opposition after his resignation. He held that post until 1900 when James Dunsmuir became premier. Dunsmuir's ministry was in some ways a reprise of the governing group that held power from 1883 to 1898 and Turner was returned to the cabinet on June 15, 1900 as minister of finance and agriculture again.
Turner was 67 years old at this time and perhaps he was tiring of the chaotic political scene in B.C. On September 3, 1901, he resigned from provincial politics to take a post as agent general for British Columbia in England.

Shortly after his arrival in London on February 11, 1902, Turner gave a paper at the Royal Colonial Institute entitled "British Columbia of to-day" In this report he emphasized B.C's great weather, magnificent scenery, abundant forest resources then boasted of the many opportunities waiting for British investors in its mines. This raised a few eyebrows since Turner's involvement in speculative mining companies had not been forgotten. Or forgiven by some. Even his appointment to the post of agent general had generated critical comments from the London press. 

However, over the next fifteen years that Turner held that office, his efforts to promote British Columbia won him respect in many quarters.

As agent general, Turner arranged for many exhibitions of B.C.'s agriculture products at fairs and shows throughout Britain. In London, he left a more permanent symbol with the construction of the British Columbia House on Lower Regent Street.  The formal opening of the British Columbia House in 1915, coincided with Turner's removal from office!

Turner was replaced by another former, Richard McBride (June 1, 1903 to December 15, 1915). When McBride died in 1917, Turner returned to the position of agent general before retiring permanently in 1918. By this time, John Herbert Turner had become a symbolic figure. He had taken on such honorary roles such as presiding over a dinner held by Canadians in London to celebrate the appointment of Lord Beaverbrook to the British Cabinet in the spring of 1918.

Six weeks after his 90th birthday, Turner participated in a commemorative tree planting at the graveside
of explorer George Vancouver. The Native Sons of British Columbia had arranged this event in Petersham, which was not far from Turner's retirement home in Richmond. Other participants in this event were the Prince of Wales as well as delegates from the Vancouver Board of Trade. What a fitting end to Turner's association with British Columbia - he died six months later.

I would like to thank Dictionary of Canadian Biography for the above information. The information on the school I got from

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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