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Memorable Manitobans: John Frank “Never Break” Turner (1897-1972)

Telegraph operator.

Born at Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1897, he joined Western Associated Press (WAP was the Canadian Press’ predecessor in Western Canada) in March 1912 as a Morse telegraph operator. When CP was established in 1917, Turner became the Winnipeg bureau’s day editor. Given his many years experience as a Morse operator, he played an integral role in maintaining exceptional wire service during the 1919 General Strike.

On Saturday, 17 May 1919 over 200 commercial and brokerage telegraphers in Winnipeg joined the citywide shutdown by thousands of fellow workers and walked off their jobs. Among the wire service men who abandoned their keys were the five unionized operators at Canadian Press (CP) headquarters in Winnipeg. From 20 May to 11 June, Turner single-handedly sent and received all telegraphic messages on the strike, thus earning the nickname “Never Break.” Turner would remain with CP in the Winnipeg and Vancouver bureaus until retirement in July 1966. He served as President of the Winnipeg Press Club in 1930.

He died at Vancouver, British Columbia on 3 February 1972.

Sources:

Death registration, BC Vital Statistics.

This profile was prepared by Michael Dupuis.

Page revised: 12 August 2011

Memorable Manitobans

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