John Napier Wyndham Turner
Plot A, Lot 185A
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Born June 7, 1929 in Richmond, Surrey, England to Leonard Hugh Turner, an English journalist, and Phyllis Gregory, a Canadian economist, John Turner moved to Canada with his mother and his sister, Brenda after his father died in 1932.
Turner was educated at Ashbury College and St Patrick’s College, Ottawa, before enrolling at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1945 at age 16. He was an outstanding track sprinter, and qualified for 1948 Olympic team, but a bad knee kept him for competing. He graduated from UBC with a BA (Honours) in 1949, and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Turner went on to Magdalen College at the University of Oxford, and earned a BA, Jurisprudence in 1951; a Bachelor of Civil Law in 1952; and an MA in 1957. From 1952 to 1953, he pursued doctoral studies at the University of Paris.
Turner practised law with the firm of Stikeman Elliott in Montreal, Quebec, before being elected as Member of Parliament for St. Lawrence—St. George from 1962 to 1968. With the dissolution of that riding, he served as from 1968 to 1976 the Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Carleton from 1968 to 1976.
Turner served in the cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau first as Minister of Justice from 1968 to 1972, and then Minister of Finance from 1972 to 1975. He resigned from his position in 1975.
After a nine-year hiatus from politics, John Turner returned and successfully contested the 1984 Liberal leadership. He held the office of Prime Minister for 79 days, as he advised the Governor General to dissolve Parliament immediately after being sworn in, and then went on to lose the election in a landslide to Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives. Turner stayed on as Liberal leader and led the Opposition for the next six years, leading his party to a modest recovery in the 1988 election. He resigned as Liberal leader in 1990 and stepped down as an MP at the 1993 election.
John Turner was Canada’s first Prime Minister born in the United Kingdom since Mackenzie Bowell in 1896. He was the fourth longest-lived Prime Minister, living to the age of 91.
Turner was married to Geills McCrae Kilgour who was the great niece of Canadian Army doctor John McCrae, the author of what is probably the best-known First World War poem, “In Flanders Fields” and sister of David Kilgour, a long-time Canadian Member of Parliament. The Turners have a daughter named Elizabeth and three sons: David, Michael and Andrew.
The Right Honourable John Napier Wyndham Turner, PC CC QC, passed away on September 19, 2020.