Memorable Manitobans: James Ogden Freeman Turner (1913-1998)
Born at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on 11 August 1913, he lived in the village of Central Butte until moving to Winnipeg in 1930 to finish grade 12 at Kelvin High School. He returned to Saskatchewan during the Great Depression where he was active in Boy Scouts. He attended the Moose Jaw Normal School and, in 1932, began his teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse at Grandview, Saskatchewan. Two years later, he taught at Willmar, Saskatchewan. He then returned to Winnipeg, received a degree from the University of Manitoba and, in 1939, joined the staff of Ravenscourt School working as a teacher (1939-1946), Assistant Headmaster (1946-1949), and Headmaster (1949-1950).
From 1950 to 1952, he was the first Headmaster of the combined schools of St. John’s and Ravenscourt. In the autumn of 1952, he departed Manitoba for London, England, leaving via a grain ship from the Port of Churchill. He applied himself to post-graduate studies at the University of London before returning to Winnipeg and joining the Winnipeg School Division, teaching at Faraday School (1953-1954) and Isaac Newton High School (1954-1955). In 1955, he joined the staff of the University of Manitoba and was Professor of English when he retired in 1979.
On 2 April 1945, he married Rosemary Joan Townend (1923-2008) at St. George's Anglican Church and they subsequently had a daughter and a son. He was a board member of the Winnipeg Little Theatre (1953-1954, also historian) and of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation, a founding member and President (1961-1963) of the Manitoba Theatre Centre and he was involved in the formalization of the Manitoba Arts Council. In 1995, he received the Prix Manitoba Award in recognition of his many years of volunteer service.
He died at Winnipeg on 28 February 1998.
Photo caption, Winnipeg Tribune, 3 April 1945, page 7.
“J. Ogden is named Ravenscourt School head,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 May 1949, page 3.
“St. John’s-Ravenscourt gets new Headmaster,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 May 1952, page 3.
“In London town,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 March 1953, page 18.
“WLT aims at 1,500 members,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 September 1953, page 13.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 March 1998, page 96.
Obituary [Rosemary Joan Turner], Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2008.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 6 February 2023