As a volunteer in the Archives, I offered to write a blog for Deborah Chapman. For the past two years, I have been describing and arranging archival materials, creating fonds that will be accessed by future researchers. In this time I have worked on a variety of materials from:  local women’s institutes, an early hospital collection, a school parent advisory, and several local individuals. Currently I am working on a very large file related to R. Turner & Sons Ltd. This firm was the prime distributor of Salmon Arm fruits and vegetables during the Second World War until the “big freeze” in the winter of 1950.  Robert Turner, the founder, and his sons, Eddie and Ronald Turner were all presidents of this company and also occupy their own personal fonds.

This description work usually begins with the presentation of a sizeable box brimming with   papers, including photo albums and diaries perhaps, in various states of organization.  Any metal must be removed to preserve paper materials. Photos must be placed in acid free envelopes. Then the papers, such as letters or minute books must be placed in similar groups chronologically, keyed into the computer records. At this point, patterns begin to emerge and stories unfold.

The R. Turner & Sons Ltd. file reveals the importance of Okanagan produce in the Second World War effort. The sheer size of orders shipped to the United States, probably for military bases, as well as many apple shipments to the British Ministry of Food during and after that war, is outstanding.  At the same time, huge orders were shipped across Canada, many to military training bases and even prisoner internment facilities. Then there are the handwritten orders from here in British Columbia from smaller communities, like Beavermouth and Golden, mostly along the main CPR line. The amount of detailed organization required to fill and track the orders through government and border inspectors and the rail and marine arrangements is impressive.

turner apple label 1.jpg

Besides the orchard business, the R. Turner & Sons Ltd. files include many land transactions. The original property beside McGuire Lake became sites for a high school, medical clinic, law offices, hotel and the present Shuswap Lake hospital land were gradually subdivided, along with many small holdings. Eddie Turner signed on behalf of the company many of these transactions and mortgages for these properties. During the 1950’s he served as Reeve of the District of Salmon Arm for almost ten years.

As a resident of Salmon Arm for the past thirty-six years and relative “newcomer”, my Archives tasks have brought me closer to the real story of Salmon Arm. So, thank you, Deborah, for your patient persistence in your efforts to engage me in this process. And yes, I ought to have started ten years ago.