This week’s column is on a builder in hockey that spent some time growing up in the Sault and is a relative of one of our staff, that’s how I came across his name.
Called “the most versatile and passionate hockey promoters of his time,” Lloyd Turner loved baseball as much as hockey.
He didn’t get involved in hockey until he worked at hockey rinks in the winter to help pay for baseball equipment in the summer.
But as is written about him, “he worked tirelessly to assemble teams, organize leagues, and construct arenas.”
He helped establish the Allan Cup during the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Elmvale, Ontario, Turner attended school in Barrie. His family later settled in Sault Ste. Marie and Calgary.
While living in the Sault his involvement in hockey grew and he suited up with the same amateur squad as the well-known brothers George, Harold and Howard McNamara.
Turner honed his organizational skills at this time by working as the icemaker and personnel manager for the rink when he wasn’t playing.
In 1906 he relocated briefly to Fort William, Ontario where he was the player/manager of the city’s hockey club.
When Turner moved with his family to Calgary, Turner continued to play baseball and was the only non-American in the whole Western Canada League.
It was also here that the Alberta version of “Mr. Hockey” became heavily involved in hockey again. One of his first tasks was to transform the old Sherman Arena from a roller skating rink to an ice hockey venue. He added ice, established a team and new league while continuing to thrive as a player/manager. Turner’s efforts were rewarded with a provincial amateur title in 1914.
When the Sherman rink burned down in 1915, Turner opened an open air facility across the street to keep the team going.
In 1918 Turner made his greatest impact on the hockey fortunes of Calgary by leasing the horse show building at the Calgary exhibition grounds and adding ice. During this period he worked diligently to create a hockey league with two teams each in Calgary and Edmonton. This circuit became known as the Western Canada League and expanded to Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Portland.
Turner manager the Calgary Tigers to great success in the WCHL which peaked with an unsuccessful appearance against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1924 Stanley Cup final.
Following the Stanley Cup setback, Turner sought a new challenge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He spent four years there and won a league championship in 1925-26 before heading to Seattle to guide that city’s Pacific Coast League squad and manage the arena.
Turner returned to Calgary in 1931 to re-structure the Western Canada League during its merge with the former Pacific Coast Hockey Association franchises.
The following year he headed a company that installed artificial ice in the Calgary arena that kick-started that trend across the Prairies.
Turner next became involved with senior amateur hockey, a sector of the sport that lacked a consistent following across the country. The Allan Cup had been around since 1908 but often had trouble attracting a sufficient number of entrants.
Turner personally financed the use of special trains from Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Drumheller to ensure that fans within 150 miles of Calgary would have easier access to the finals. The result was a resounding success. The arena was jammed, the hockey was superb, and the status of the Allan Cup was elevated via radio broadcasts and newspaper reports. Over the next several years Calgary hosted both the semi-finals and finals and the revenue generated went towards a much needed “nest egg” for the CAHA.
Turner continued to offer his expertise as manager of the new Calgary Stampede Corral after its construction in 1950. He continued to be the most revered hockey consultant in the area while organizing a host of civilian and military leagues.
Turner also set up organized hockey for the native bands of Alberta. This began with the Calgary-based southern Alberta Indian Tournament that featured three nearby bands. The competition grew throughout the province and Turner donated trophies for junior, intermediate and senior divisions for the Alberta native population. His commitment and sincerity earned Turner the honourary title “Chief Sitting Bull” from the Stoney band.
He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.