Monthly Archives: December 2017

Bill Turnbull

Bill Turnbull, May 1911

WILLIAM (BILL) INNES TURNBULL
(February 1, 1886 – August 4, 1933)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1906-1915)

The older brother of Canadian lacrosse hall-of-famer Len Turnbull, Bill Turnbull was born in New Westminster, British Columbia on February 1, 1886 to William, Snr. and Jessie Turnbull.

Both brothers joined the New Westminster senior team in the 1906 season. While Len played up front as a scoring threat on the crease, ‘Long Bill’ was almost always found slotted in as the third-home, an offensive-minded midfield position who would have supported the centreman and been involved in the loose-ball battles for possession after the draw. In the 1909 campaign, Bill Turnbull filled in as the Salmonbellies’ centreman for half the season while ‘Pat’ Feeney was forced to sit out due to rheumatism. During the course of his seven professional seasons with the Salmonbellies, between 1909 and 1915, Turnbull appeared in 75 games and scored 66 goals.

When looking at his career numbers, Bill Turnbull is ranked eighth overall for goals, ninth for penalties, and fourth for penalty minutes. His 324 minutes spent ‘sent to the fence’ are inflated by two games where he chalked up around an hour each game due to fighting and expulsions – otherwise by and large he never had the reputation of being a particularly dirty or nasty player. His best seasons were the two shortened campaigns in 1913 and 1914 when he finished 2nd and 1st respectively in goal-scoring for the Salmonbellies.

Bill Turnbull was reported in the Ottawa Citizen to have moved to the Cariboo region of British Columbia but returned to New Westminster in May 1913 after having previously considered a permanent move there.

Bill Turnbull, one of the best pro midfielders from 1909 to 1915.

Like his brother Len, Bill Turnbull served in the armed forces during the Great War. He enlisted in the 131st Battalion and went overseas to England. He soon transferred to the transports and was sent over to France. After the conclusion of the war, unlike Len, however, Bill did not return to the playing field. July 10, 1915 was the date of his final lacrosse match – finishing on the sidelines after he was given an early boot by the referee in the fourth quarter for fighting. He would then be absent from the last four remaining games of the 1915 season, probably due to enlistment commitments.

Outside of lacrosse, Turnbull held down a wide assortment of jobs for employment. He worked for the Canadian Customs Service in Abbotsford. After his resignation, he then went into farming. He also worked as a cashier for the Vancouver Harbour Board at Ballantyne Pier and later entered the insurance business as an agent for Travelers’ Insurance Company. Prior to his illness, which caused him to stop working, he held interest in a peat company in Pitt Meadows. Bill was married to Jean Turnbull but there is no record or mention of the couple having any children.

Bill Turnbull passed away at the age of 47, from stomach cancer, after three weeks spent at Royal Columbian Hospital. He had been seriously ill for around six months prior to his admittance. He was interred at the family plot at the International Order of Old Fellows cemetery within Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster, British Columbia.

(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA 99-41; IHP1182)

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Len Turnbull

Len Turnbull, May 1911

LEONARD (LEN) TURNBULL
(May 31, 1889 – March 7, 1952)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1906-1913; 1915; 1918-1919; 1921-1923)
Toronto Lacrosse Club (1914)

The Turnbull brothers of New Westminster, Len and Bill, were two of the best offensive players of their day. The younger of the brothers, Leonard Turnbull was born on May 31, 1889. He grew up at the family residence at 1112 Sixth Avenue in New Westminster and was still living there at the time of the 1901 census. His parents were William and Jessie Turnbull. Apart from his brother Bill, he had no other siblings besides an older sister named Tryphina.

Although both his parents were born in England, the family was of Scottish descent. On his mother’s side, Len was a grandson of New Westminster pioneers Sergeant-Major John McMurphy and his wife, who arrived in 1858 with the rest of the Royal Engineers when the townsite was founded and built. Despite the shared surname, Len and Bill Turnbull had no family relationship whatsoever with their New Westminster teammate Alex Turnbull, whose origins were in Ontario.

Len Turnbull, the Salmonbellies’ best scorer after the Spring Brothers.

Len Turnbull played two seasons of intermediate lacrosse with the New Westminster West Ends before graduating to the senior squad in 1906. Starting in 1909, Len Turnbull would play 11 seasons of professional ball for the Salmonbellies, clocking up 105 appearances and bagging an even 100 goals for the redshirts.

His role on Salmonbellies team was the outside home position on the attacking line – paired up with the great ‘Grumpy’ Spring for most of his career until Spring’s retirement after the 1921 season. He gained fame for his ball-ragging ability to kill time on the clock. In his last two seasons of play, he usually found himself alongside Thure Storme whenever the injury-prone Scandinavian was healthy. For reasons unknown, Len was sometimes nicknamed ‘Tulip’ or the ‘Old Tulip’.

In October 1910, the two brothers both visited Spokane, Washington – their names well-known enough as lacrosse stars for their presence in the city to garner specific mention in the local newspaper.

Len Turnbull signed a contract with the Toronto Lacrosse Club in 1912 along with fellow teammates Cliff Spring and ‘Buck’ Marshall but then renegaded and handed back the advance money after Toronto’s failure to also sign Gordon Spring and Bill Fitzgerald – which was apparently part of the agreement. Cliff Spring and Len Turnbull finally did sign and play for Toronto of the Dominion Lacrosse Union in 1914, scoring 23 goals in 18 games in his lone season not wearing New Westminster colours.

Len Turnbull unsuccessful in beating ‘Bun’ Clark at Recreation Park in Vancouver, ca.1910-11

Turnbull was in the military at some time during the Great War but his length and nature of service is otherwise unknown.

In assessing his career numbers, he ranks eighth overall for number of games played during the professional era in British Columbia and fifth overall for goals scored. His 100 goals make him one of only five players who matched or surpassed the century mark during the Coast’s professional years and the third-highest goal-scorer for New Westminster after the two Spring brothers. His best campaign for goal production occurred in 1910 when he tied his linemate Gordon Spring with 22 goals.

Especially during the post-war ‘comeback’ part of his career, he was an impeccably clean player and accumulated only 19 penalties and 112 minutes to his name throughout his pro career. He was only one of two players who played a decade or more of professional ball under his belt on the Pacific Coast and didn’t finish in the top-twenty for penalty infractions and minutes.

The bulk of his pro career was compacted into 8 seasons – as he only played 4 games in parts of 3 years between 1915 and 1919, as well as completely missing out the 1920 season. However, from start to finish and adding his three seasons of senior ball with New Westminster prior to professionalization on the Coast, along with his season playing back east, in total Len Turnbull’s stellar lacrosse career spanned across 15 seasons played out over 18 years.

Teammate ‘Grumpy’ Spring celebrates as Len Turnbull puts the ball past ‘Bun’ Clark at Queens Park, ca.1910-11

At the time of his brother Bill’s untimely passing in 1933, he was residing in Penticton, British Columbia.

Len Turnbull worked as a mail clerk for the Pacific Great Eastern railroad. He retired at age 60, two years before he passed away in 1952 at his home on Old Yale Road in Surrey, British Columbia from carcinoma of the colon.

At the time of his death, he was a widower, and, according to funeral records, it appears he had no living next of kin besides his sister Tryphina Olmstead and a cousin. Len Turnball was interred in the International Order of Old Fellows cemetery section located within the Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster, British Columbia. At his funeral, which was reported by the local press to have been well-attended, two of his old teammates from his glory days, Jim Gifford and George Rennie, were his pallbearers.

In 1971, Leonard Turnbull was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the Field Player category.

(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA 99-41; NWMA IHP1183; CVA 371-607; CVA 371-58)

Canadian Lacrosse Almanac 2018 Edition

Click this link to view and download: CANADIAN LACROSSE ALMANAC 1867-2018

First compiled in 2002 as a 102-page softcover book with a print-run of 200 copies, the Canadian Lacrosse Almanac was inspired by Jim Hendy and his pioneering work The Hockey Guide which first hit the shelves in 1933 and remained in yearly production until 1951.

The almanac’s initial focus was primarily on the statistical history of British Columbia lacrosse leagues – namely, annual league standings along with post-season play. It was the first publication to research and examine the pre-1932 era in British Columbia which until that time had never been documented at a statistical level.

Over time, further research uncovered new data and new material was made available to the author. Cost and production issues made the author switch from a print format to releasing it in a PDF format – made available for free – when he completed a second edition in 2005.

With the current 2018 edition now at 647 pages (with 55 more pages of new content compared to the 2017 edition), the almanac has expanded to cover the rest of Canada as well as American NCAA collegiate, professional leagues, international competitions, and foreign domestic leagues where information is available.