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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