AudioJohn E. Turnbull interview
Ed Brubaker (00:00:00):
This is an interview with John E. Turnbull, uh, an agricultural engineer and an OAC, uh, 1951 graduate. It's being held in the home of Ed Brubaker in Guelph on November 14th and is for the Alumni in Action, uh, Committee, and will go into the U of G archives for future use. John, uh, you were raised on a farm. Tell us a little bit about the farm and your schooling days.
John E. Turnbull (00:00:42):
Uh, okay, Eddie, um, I was raised on a, uh, on a 128 acre, uh, mixed, uh, dairy and swine farm, uh, in Brant County, uh, Concession 2, uh, lots 10 and 11, uh, of, uh, of South Dunfrees Township. Uh, as a matter of interest the, uh, the current farm is, uh, is, is now a golf course and, uh, so my visits back to the farm are, are truly social (laughs), not (laughs), nothing to do with agriculture anymore.
John E. Turnbull (00:01:14):
Uh, the... This was not my first place of residence, but I moved to this farm with my parents, uh, at age six. Uh, and, uh, was privileged, uh, to, uh, to attend, uh, School Section Number 6, uh, which was half a mile west of the farm, uh, up on the corner of, uh, Number 5 Highway and, uh, and, uh, Concession 2. Uh, very fortunate to have an excellent, uh, public school teacher, Mrs., uh, Campbell from St. George who handled all eight grades, uh, with, uh, absolute control and, uh, gave me a, just a, an excellent basic, uh, primary school education, the kind that you can hardly get. And very consider, consider myself very lucky to have been one of her students.
John E. Turnbull (00:02:07):
Uh, we, we had a small operation. Um, my, uh, early recollections of farming with my father are, uh, are the most pleasant. Uh, um, we milked about, uh, 10, 10 cows on average and, uh, the principle, uh, animal income from the farm was, uh, swine. We, my father had about, on average, uh, numbers between five and seven or eight sows and we, we raised all the, all the pigs from that, from that operation. And the dairy cattle were, were used mainly in support of, uh, of the swing operation. We sold, uh, we sold cream, uh, to, uh, to Brantford and, uh, and got back butter as part payment (laughs), uh, when we delivered the cream.
John E. Turnbull (00:02:57):
Um, nothing remarkable about the place. Uh, uh, except that it was a good family environment and, uh, I think, consider myself privileged to have wonderful parents that set me off in the right direction. I had a, uh, a brother, uh, born when I was, uh, five years old who unfortunately, uh, was a spina bifida. Uh, so my little brother, Graham, uh, never walked. Uh, he survived for that condition to the remarkable age of, uh, of 16 years of age and, uh, he was very smart. He took his primary school education through correspondence courses from, uh, from the Ministry of Education in Toronto and, uh, excelled, uh, all the way through, uh, primary school. But, uh, didn't get any farther than that of course because of the difficulties of, of going on from there in his condition. But nothing but, uh, the most warmest and pleasantness memories of growing up with him, helping my parents to cope with, uh, with my little brother.
John E. Turnbull (00:04:08):
High school, uh, my parents decided that a better education would probably be obtained at Brantford Collegiate Institute than, uh, than at the local, uh, St. George high school. So I bused to, uh, to high school, uh, for the, for the five years of, uh, to include the grade 13 and, uh, again a, a good basic education there. I remember many of my teachers as being superb and, uh, certainly I was, consider myself fortunate there as well.
John E. Turnbull (00:04:41):
Um, I guess my first inclination to go to Guelph for, uh, for post, uh, secondary education, uh, was instigated I think more than anything by a series of junior farmer, uh, bus tours to Guelph in which we, we went, uh, every summer for several years and partook in the, in social activities, dances and things like that at, uh, at Guelph when it was OAC. And, uh, my first, uh, my first idea of, of a career, I guess, was, was to continue farming with my father. Unfortunately, uh, his ideas about expansion didn't coincide with mine. Uh, I, I like the swine business, uh, because I had grown up with it but he was unwilling to, to expand the business to make it, you know, viable for a two-family operation and the farm was too small, uh, to, to think of, of anything else, uh, uh, at that time. So when I graduated, uh, with my, uh, degree OAC, uh, from OAC in 1951, uh, I was looking for other options. I worked, uh, temporarily, uh, for, uh... Well, go back a step.
John E. Turnbull (00:06:04):
When I graduated in '51 in, uh, in May or June, can't remember which, uh, went back and worked for the summer with my father. Uh, we had some long and important discussions on where my career should go and, uh, in the fall I, uh, went back to, uh, to, uh, to do some work, uh, with the University of Guelph, or the, at that time, OAC, uh, doing drainage survey work which repeated the summer of experience that I had had between the second and third years. So I did, uh, drainage engineering work, uh, in Central Ontario for, for the fall. Uh, was looking for something to do, uh, in November when the weather turned too cold for doing drainage engineering and, uh, Professor Jim Scott, uh, at the universi- at the college, uh, needed some extra help in the shop so I went into the, uh, the basement shop in the, uh, in the OAC Engineer- old engineering building, learned an awful lot about, uh, dealing with machines, simple machines. Lathes, drill presses and all that kinda stuff, welders.
John E. Turnbull (00:07:12):
I actually did, uh, during that winter I did some rather interesting projects that I've almost forgotten about, uh, uh, for the, uh, entomology department. I built a little production line for producing aphids in massive quantities. It was a, uh, it was a, sort of a potted plant arrangement where the pots, uh, rotated through this, uh, through this controlled environment tunnel, uh, with an environment, uh, controlled at the ideal humidity and temperature for raising aphids and, um, as the pots came off the other end, of course, the, the aphids were, were used for some researcher's nefarious purposes, uh, which I never discovered.
John E. Turnbull (00:07:55):
I did two or three, uh, other small projects. Uh, another one involved mixing, um, inocula for a clover seed with, uh, with finely pulverized, uh, black muck. And, uh, I guess the idea at that time was to promote the use of, uh, of bacterial inoculum to make sure that the clover and the alfalfa seeds, uh, uh, did produce the right kinds of, uh, bacteria to fix nitrogen, uh, in the plants that, uh, were (laughs) grown from the, from the clover seed. So that was basically just a, just a machine, uh, that to- that took the can. Uh, when the, when the inoculum was injected into this, uh, tin can, the can was sealed with a, with a soldering iron and then put on the mixer to, uh, to make sure that every particle of black muck in the can had its few bacteria attached so that when it was dumped out and mixed with a, with a bag of clover seed it would make sure that every seed got a little bit of, uh, of inoculum on it.
John E. Turnbull (00:09:05):
Uh, there were several other projects that I can't remember but those are the two most inter-
Ed Brubaker (00:09:09):
John, uh, you lived in residence for part of your, your, um, career, here at the college that is your school when you're attending University, um, and then lived out. Uh, maybe you would like to comment on residence life versus living in a home and, uh, so on. And then tell us why you chose engineering to go into when you were here because you took two years general agriculture and then had to make a choice. So, uh, tell us why.
John E. Turnbull (00:09:49):
Uh, I'm not sure I can simp- answer the question simply. Uh, it woulda been a choice of, uh, of, of engineering or, we called it engineering at that time. It really wasn't. Uh, or the alternative would be, uh, field, field crops or, or, or animal husbandry. Um, I was more interested in the, uh, in the engineering subjects. Uh, I remember being quite fascinated by biological sciences as well. Uh, but, uh, engineering seemed to fit my, uh, my skills in mathematics and so on perhaps a little better. Um, the Engineering Department was quite new at that time. In fact, to, to call it an Engineering Department, uh, in, uh, 1950 and '51 is a, is a stretch of the imagination because there was only one or two engineers in, in the department. Uh, but I do recall some, uh, some being, uh, well, considering myself fortunate that I chose engineering because I did enjoy the courses, uh, uh, even some of the, uh, especially the electrical engineering, uh, taught by, I can't even remember his name. But, uh, Pro- Pr- Pr- Professor Martin.
John E. Turnbull (00:11:09):
Uh, I still remember, uh, the, uh, you know, what makes a, in, in quite detail, what makes various kinds of electric motors go, uh, after all this time, even though I've never worked, uh, really in electrical engineering, uh, in a, in a career, uh, following. Um, I remember, uh, course, uh, courses from, uh, from Professor Downing who was, uh, the, uh, one of the, one of the few engineers in the department at that time, and the head of the department. Um, he taught a very good course in, uh, in, in environmental engineering, uh, ventilation of livestock, uh, when the, when the whole science was relatively new. But he had done his, uh, his, uh, Master's Degree in, uh, in, in a, in a branch of li- livestock ventilation and, uh, so he was very well versed in that and did quite an inspirational job of teaching that aspect of it.
John E. Turnbull (00:12:06):
Living in residence, uh, was an experience that I wouldn't've missed. Uh, I think, uh, every, every student should spend at least part of the university career, uh, living in residence. Uh, I actually lived in residence, uh, through the four years of, uh, of, uh, of college. Uh, and moved out, uh, to, you know, share, uh, rented a room in a, in a, in a nearby house for the, for the two years after I graduated that, uh, that I actually was still located at Guelph. And, uh, this was very much of a, of a home environment. Uh, fortunate enough to get in with a, with a couple who was, who are connected with agriculture. Uh, John Coburn was my, uh, was my, my host and, uh, and his wife. Uh, uh, John was a farmer, a farmer in Puslinch Township until he retired in Guelph, uh, and bought a house just a, just a little bit west of College Avenue on, on Gordon Street. Uh, but with his connection with agriculture and, uh, and he had, uh, relatives who were in the Agric service and so on. So, uh, there was, wasn't a severe break, uh, from, from agriculture.
John E. Turnbull (00:13:28):
I recall, uh, come spring, uh, this would be in the spring of 1952, the, the job with, uh, Professor Scott in the, in the engineering shop was a, was a strictly a temporary one and something as a fill-in for me. I was talking to, uh, to Burt Mogga as a matter of fact who, uh, worked upstairs, uh, in the newly formed, uh, Extension Engineers Group, uh, again, uh, a group that was put together, uh, by, uh, Glen Downing and, uh, and prf- Prof Catching. Yeah. Anyway, uh, Prof Catching was one of the professors that a- that again was, uh, an excellent teacher and, uh, kind of inspired me to, uh, to be a, a tre- a teacher of sorts. Um, Burt Mogga who had been hired, uh, in the, uh, in 1951 when he had just newly graduated from, uh, from the Engineering Department, uh, said, “Why don't you, uh, join the Extension branch with, uh, with us?”
John E. Turnbull (00:14:34):
And, uh, so I decided to do that and give it a try. Uh, at that time there was, uh, myself and Hank Bellman and, uh, Burt Mogga and, uh, Hank Ford and, uh, Ralph Gregg. And, uh, I worked out of Guelph actually for, uh, for one year or two. I can't remember precisely now. But, uh, but I traveled a massive territory across Central Ontario, uh, counties of, uh, Perth, Huron, Oxford, Norfolk, Haldimand, Lincoln, Wellington, and... No, not Brant because that was my home county.
John E. Turnbull (00:15:15):
But, uh, the main job at that time was, uh, was, was 4-H Tractor Club work, uh, and some new Farm Machinery Club work that was just beginning. And, uh, very little engineering involved in it. It was mostly, uh, mostly promotion of, uh, of good tractor and machinery maintenance on farms and, uh, and primarily, uh, the introduction of, uh, you know, better safe operation of equipment, uh, because of the... Well, one of the, one of the prime killers, uh, turned out to be the, the corn picker which was, uh, which was relatively new at that point and, uh, uh, tractors of course being the, the standard farm machine that everybody used, uh, it was, it was a killer as well. So we, we did quite a program of, uh, promoting safe operation of, uh, of, of par-driven machinery, uh, emphasizing fundamental rules like disconnecting the power takeoff before, uh, before you get off the tractor seat and simple things like that, that mean all the difference between, uh, safe and, uh, and unsafe operation.
John E. Turnbull (00:16:27):
I recall, uh, the, in the spring of '53, uh, I had the privilege of working at an exhibit, uh, done by the Junior Farmers Association in cooperation with the entire Department of Agriculture and we had a very talented cartoonist, uh, a junior farmer from Woodstock, uh, area, Jack-
Ed Brubaker (00:16:52):
John E. Turnbull (00:16:53):
.... Coburn, yeah. And, um, he whipped off these charcoal cartoons on a, uh, on a white, uh, white background and I stood there as the, as the circus barker sort of, uh, um, forming a, a verbal, uh, background for, for his, uh, for his illustrations. I don't know... Eddie, you probably remember, uh, you, you remember as much about that as, as I do I think. But, uh, yeah. It was, it was an interesting process because I was at the, uh... No. Was in the spring or was it the Royal Winter Fair? I believe it was at the Royal Winter Fair. So that would be in, uh, in November and whether that was in 1952 or 1953, I am not sure now. But, uh, it was an interesting experience being exposed to the public, this, uh, this shy country boy who had to get up in front of a group of people and grab their attention and, uh, and try to sell the idea of safer farm machinery operation.
John E. Turnbull (00:18:01):
Uh, Glen Downing wanted, uh, more safety, uh, emphasis and, uh, we published, uh, I, I wrote and Jack, uh, Coburn illustrated, uh, a series of safety bulletins which I believe probably appeared, uh, in the, in the old map offices maybe in the early, or, or mid, uh, 1950, uh, 3. Uh, we did a, a series of I think six or seven bulletins on various machines, their, uh, their major hazards and, uh, and how to operate them safely. And, uh, they probably couldn't even be found anywhere except in the archives now but, uh, it was an interesting process getting into the publishing business with the cooperation of the, oh, Exhibit Extension, uh, Division at, uh, at, at OAC. And I can't remember the names of the personnel, uh, but, I remember the, the help they provided in, in getting these bulletins published.
Ed Brubaker (00:19:07):
And John, we wanna go on further with your career then, but let's just, uh, regress a little bit. You say you enjoyed four years residence life here. What was so interesting about it and do you recall some of the good friends you made? You've, uh, listed some of the good profs that you've had. Uh, any others that you wanna give special mention to?
John E. Turnbull (00:19:35):
I guess I'd have to list, uh, the, the various roommates that I, that I had and remember. I was privileged to, to share in first year a room with, uh, uh, Don Stewart, uh, and, uh, and Steve Stuthers, uh, both of whom are well known alumni. Uh, uh, I've maintained not a close contact with year '51 graduates, but I try to attend the, uh, the f- year '51 reunions every, every five years when I can and, uh, I still have contact with those two. I remember, uh, a very warm association with, uh, with, uh, Clay Switzer and, uh, uh, others, many others. It's, it was a big, uh, big graduating class. But, uh, these are, these are a few names that s- come to mind at this time. Um-
Ed Brubaker (00:20:32):
Was it [crosstalk]?
John E. Turnbull (00:20:37):
... um, a Professor I remember, uh, inspiring some real interest in, in zoology. It would be a first or second course in, uh, in basic zoology and, uh, he was a big man and talked with a, with a deep voice. But, uh, he revealed, uh, some of the, uh, some of the concepts of evolution which, to a young farm boy at that time, uh, we hadn't thought too much about. In fact, evolution wasn't, wasn't talked much about in those days. But he, uh, I remember his, uh, his documenting, uh, the, the, the process of, uh, the fertilized egg, uh, developing, uh, into a, an embryo and, uh, and a, and a baby whatever, uh, repeating the evolutionary process from the, from step one, uh, which was a concept that, uh, was totally new. Uh, I remember some very interesting stuff about, uh, uh, miosis, mitosis, the, uh, division of the chromosomes into a, into two sets and the recombination with fertilization and so on. Again, which was, um, very important education at that time and, and still holds true today. Uh, we haven't seen anything in modern, uh, science that's distorted or, or done anything but amplify on that, on that process and it's, continues to be a, one of God's mysteries even though we know more and more and more about it.
Ed Brubaker (00:22:34):
Okay, John, that's good. And, uh, and we did have a pretty broad education in those days which stood as in good stead and we remember things and, uh, particularly when we had good Profs. Uh, John, uh, you started here with the Extension Branch and traveling around, uh, Southern Ontario doing tractor clubs and 4-H machinery clubs or Junior Farmer Machinery Clubs, I guess they were called. And I can remember you coming to Lincoln County about '52 or '53 and, and, uh, talking about the grain binders and, and, uh, corn binders and things of that type, uh, there. And, uh, and, uh, John, you stayed with Extension Branch and you were, moved to Ridge Town but your work began to expand, uh, beyond the, uh, 4-H work. Uh, tell us how that expansion started and how you got into it and then what eventually it led to.
John E. Turnbull (00:23:41):
In 1954, in the spring of '54, I was, uh, sent to, to Ridge Town, uh, with the idea of simply translocating my summer work, the 4-H Club and Farm Machinery Club work, uh, to the Ridge Town area. Uh, I also had, uh, had got a good, uh, bit of experience doing drainage engineering work and, uh, drainage engineering, uh, was always a big part of the Extension Program, uh, in, in the flat country of Western Ontario.
John E. Turnbull (00:24:17):
So, uh, I had a, kind of a three-way job, uh, for the, for the summer there. But, uh, more importantly, uh, I was to be one of, uh, one of two engineers, uh, located at the Agricultural College at Ridge Town. And, uh, of course, uh, once the, uh, once the college year opened, uh, down there in, uh, in October or November, whenever, I guess October. Uh, I had to think about, uh, other things besides the Extension work in order to develop, uh, and, uh, and continue with the teaching program that had been started there by, uh, by Hank Ford and, uh, and others, uh, including Bob Hoar, uh, Professor Bob Hoar who is, uh, located at Ridge Town, uh, following, uh, his move from, from Chatham. Uh, Hank Ford, uh, left the, uh, left the Extension Branch, uh, in 1954 and this is what created the, the opening for me at the Ridge Town College, uh, teaching at the college involved, uh, shop work, uh, machinery maintenance, uh, tractor maintenance, the same kind of teaching work that I had been doing to the 4-H Club so that part was not new.
John E. Turnbull (00:25:42):
But, uh, it also included, uh, teaching some basic, uh, mathematics, uh, to, uh, to, um, uh, agricultural college level, level students which was not the same thing as, as, as certainly, uh, grade thirteen mathematics that I had come through. So it was relatively, relatively almost too simple, uh, but nevertheless, challenging to teach to a group of, uh, of students who had varying backgrounds all the way from, uh, grade thirteen graduation, uh, down to, to something equivalent to grade, uh, basically grade nine. So you had to teach at a level that would, uh, that would hold the, uh, the students that had passed through three rather sophisticated maths, uh, and at the same time, manage to teach something, uh, of use to those with, say, grade nine education which is a quite a different thing. Uh, it was frustrating, uh, because of the variety of backgrounds, uh, that the students showed. But, uh, I was fortunate in those first three or four or five years of, uh, being exposed to some, some very superior students, uh, who were basically, uh, on their way to Guelph and, and other places, uh, but went through the, uh, the, the course at, for two years at, uh, WOAS, uh, before they went on.
John E. Turnbull (00:27:11):
And, uh, I guess one has to say something about the conditions under which we taught there. Uh, there was, there was no shop, uh, per se at, uh, at Ridge Town. Uh, Hank, uh, Ford and, uh, and others had put together the, uh, the rudiments of a shop in, uh, what was a construction shack, uh, left over from the building of the residence at Ridge Town. The whole was, was a new program at that time and I remember Hank had, uh, moved a bunch of Jim Scott's, uh, uh, forges to, to Ridge Town and, uh, used them for hot metal work and, uh, we had a table saw and we had, uh, we had some welders and, uh, and we did the best we could, uh, uh, working in a shop with an earth floor and, uh, and basically a, a gas stove in the corner to, to heat the place.
John E. Turnbull (00:28:07):
We, uh, we also taught, or I taught a, um, um, a new course in, in farm buildings which was basically an appreciation course, uh, to get across some standard proc- uh, practices, uh, some things to look for in, uh, in writing contracts and, uh, and some of the basic procedures in, in starting and, uh, framing a farm building. We, uh, we learned very early in the game to, to give the students as much exposure outside to, uh, to beginning construction proc- uh, practices like, uh, rudimentary surveying to, to make a rectangular building with 90 degree corners and, uh, setting up the batter boards to control the elevation and, uh, position of the corners of a basic rectangular building.
John E. Turnbull (00:29:05):
Uh, some basic surveying, uh, you know, how to, how to use a surveyor's level to determine the difference between two elevations. And, uh, you know, stuff like that, uh, proved to be very interesting, uh, for both the teacher and the student because I had little tricks that I could check the accuracy of their work simply by measuring the diagonal of the building that they'd laid out. And, uh, and they, they got a mark based on how close they were to the true Pythagorean, uh, diagonal across the building and, uh, you know, the process of marking the exam was, was dead simple. It took 10 seconds and (laughs), and I had them graded.
John E. Turnbull (00:29:44):
The, uh, the task of, uh, reviewing written papers, uh, from written exams was another, was another aspect that was not as enjoyable. It wasn't as easy to check. We tried to do some, uh, testing with true-false, uh, type exams but you don't really get the making of the individual and, uh, it was not a very satisfactory method. So I did it the hard way and spent a lot of overtime, like, uh, like every new teach does I guess, uh, evaluating students and trying to be fair and trying to maintain discipline which I think is probably, was a lot easier in those days than it is now. I would hesitate to even think about trying to teach high school at the current situations that we have in typical high schools now.
John E. Turnbull (00:30:35):
Anyway, that, uh, that's sort of the beginnings. Uh, for the first, oh, I would say four or five years that I was in Ridge Town, uh, the 4-H and Farm Machinery Club were tapered off. Uh, I had a series of, uh, of new graduates from, mostly from Guelph, uh, who came down to, to do their initiation, uh, into Extension work, uh, with me. And, uh, I remember some very helpful people, uh, who, who began their careers with me. Uh, Keith Clark, uh, Tom Brown, Ralph Clayton, uh, yeah. Ed, uh, Ed, you were, you were with me for two years or three? Yeah. And, uh, I guess, uh, you came directly to Ridge Town from the farm, didn't you, when, uh, when you joined the Extension Branch? And, uh, Dave Harmon, uh, later on, uh, who went on to become a Professor at the University of Western Ontario. Um, Dave was, was brilliant. He and I just, we clicked. He had, he was the idea man and I could put them into practice and that was, that was a good, uh, good relationship. I haven't seen Dave for a long, long time, but... And, uh, Norm Byrd, uh, Bob Millen, uh, there must be others.
John E. Turnbull (00:32:09):
Burt Mogga of course who was, uh, who was with me for several years. Uh, and, uh, when he, when he arrived, I can't remember the exact date when he was transferred, uh, there but, uh, he, uh, worked with me from, virtually from day one. And, uh, because of his own personal interest in, uh, in tractors and machinery, he, he took over more of the, uh, more of the mechanization aspects of the teaching at the, uh, at the college. And I sort of swung into the, uh, into the, the construction and, uh, mathematical, uh, areas and, uh, I guess this had the effect of, uh, of giving me a, a curiosity to look at farm buildings from a, from an engineering standpoint and, uh, and try to think of ways of improving the engineering. Um, coming up with new construction practices for example that lent themselves to, uh, to, uh, buildings that weren't quite so permanent but would be easier to modify and easier to, easier to adapt as, as, as agriculture's demands changed.
John E. Turnbull (00:33:21):
One of the things that, uh, that we did, uh, early in the game was, uh, we had an Extension Branch conference... No, an Engineer's conference at Ridge Town which was an annual event, uh, separate from the, uh, from the Extension Branch conference where the Ag reps and, uh, associate reps and so on were, were involved. In connection with the Engineer's conference, we were invited, uh, to, uh, to visit Michigan and, uh, look at the work of Extension engineers and college professors dealing with farm buildings and see what they were doing in Michigan. Uh, this was in the early days of pole barn construction and, uh, they had developed the idea of a, of a rapid pole frame construction, uh, but not using poles on a grid of 14 feet or 16 feet as, uh, as the earliest pole barns were. But, uh, relatively, uh, relatively simple rectangle, uh, of, of poles on the perimeter, uh, typically at eight foot centers, uh, spanned with trusses, uh, that would give the building a clear span interior which, for all sorts of reasons, uh, certainly increased the versatility of the building and the convertibility of, of farm buildings. And so my, my early, uh, exploits in farm building design weren't [inaudible] the idea of truss roof construction with pole frame or with other conventional, uh, stud wall construction, too, which didn't die and is still very much, uh, a standard way to build.
John E. Turnbull (00:34:58):
Um, this, I guess with this exposure to farm buildings and, uh, with the, the continuing contact with Extension engineers in both Michigan and, uh, and New York State, and with the American Society Of Agricultural Engineers where, of course, these, these American Engineers were affiliated, we looked at other developments. Of course, uh, liquid manure handling and slotted floors, uh, for, for livestock was, was coming in then and, uh, there were mistakes being made and, environmentally. For example, uh, failure to deal with the, uh, the gases produced by manure, uh, under a slotted floor and, uh, how you designed and managed the ventilation system to minimize that risk and, uh, and more importantly, still to, uh, to deal with the added risk of pumping out the manure tanks, uh, when they became close to full and, uh, doing it safely so that livestock and people didn't die in the process. This learning process is still going on and, uh, we still see mistakes being made, uh, out there dealing with liquid manure and the gases there- thereby produced.
Ed Brubaker (00:36:26):
John, you did a lotta work on development of trusses using the Spruce that we had available rather than the Douglas Fir that was so readily available in Michigan. Can you tell us something about that work and the various steps that you went through and where it led to?
John E. Turnbull (00:36:44):
Yeah. This one is interesting, uh, Ed, because, uh, the Michigan, uh, engineers, uh, were dealing with essentially kiln dried product from, from the Western United States. They, the framing lumber was Douglas Fir. Uh, it had a very low shrinkage ratio. That's one of the characteristics of that specie. And, uh, the connection system that they had developed was, uh, uh, plywood gussets, uh, nailed and glued to the, uh, to both sides of the, of the structural frame. Uh, a very efficient system because glue, uh, properly chosen glue, uh, put together under, under good environmental conditions, that is, not in the rain, if you use the right glue, you could achieve a very strong joint. In Canada, our, our main supply of, uh, structural lumber for framing farm buildings was, uh, is Spruce and still remains Spruce. Uh, it wasn't predictably at that time, uh, available as kiln dried product. Uh, it was, it was wet right from the mills. It was trimmed and dressed oversized so that, uh, when it was put into houses and, uh, and other buildings, it would shrink to, uh, to the CSA standard size and, uh, and be satisfactory put together with a, with a relatively sol- uh, soft, uh, uh, connection, namely, uh, the nailed connection.
John E. Turnbull (00:38:14):
It became rapidly apparent, uh, when we started putting trusses together in, in Ontario that we had to have a different method from the glued method. My first experience with it was, uh, contact with the farmer by the name of Alden McClain at, uh, High Gate. And Alden came to me, uh, with the question, how to build a new chicken barn. He had just lost a building, uh, to fire. He, uh, he had an idea of what he wanted to do but, uh, but he didn't know just how to do it. Uh, I quickly and easily talked him into the idea of a pole frame, insulated pole frame construction with a trussed roof and, uh, offered to design for him a, uh, I believe it was a 40 foot span truss because that's the, the size of building that he wanted. I can't remember how long the building was but that wasn't a factor in the design anyway once you get the design of the truss.
John E. Turnbull (00:39:14):
Uh, I worked out the design for a 40 foot span, uh, single W, uh, roof truss, uh, to be spaced at four foot on centers. Came up with reasonable lumber sizes and, uh, plywood gussets that would, uh, connect it together. Uh, we put it together with glue and, uh, I watched these trusses being built. And I said to myself, “We are in trouble if this wood is wet because when it shrinks, it's going to stress the glue and shear off and it's not gonna be good.” Uh, about this time, well, we did, we did some promotion of, of farm glued trusses but without any confidence that we were on safe ground, uh, because of the extreme variability of the, the moisture content in the basic product. The plywood was not the question. The plywood, uh, if was, uh, shipped from the, uh, from the plywood mill and stored under cover at the lumber dealers, uh, it was predictably, uh, predictably dry and, uh, uh, Canadian soft wood plywood at that time was a, was a beautiful product 'cause they still had lotsa Douglas Fir in British Columbia to make the plywood with. But the framing lumber that got sandwiched between the plywood was not predictable because of its moisture.
John E. Turnbull (00:40:37):
Our Director at that time, uh, McClawrie a man for whom I had tremendous respect, had the, the vision to say to his, uh, to his boys in the field, “You guys have gotta be engineers. You're gonna do engineering work out here, you're very soon gonna run into conflict with the professional engineers and, uh, and you ain't in any position to compete or cooperate or even command their respect if you're not qualified.”
John E. Turnbull (00:41:09):
So he gave the opportunity to, uh, to a group of us to return to Guelph. Uh, Glen Downing, uh, worked out a program of, uh, of basic courses in engineering which were developing at Guelph at that time, uh, by the time we got into this. This would be in 1959, '60. Um, the engineering program at Guelph was going forward. There were several highly qualified engineers on staff, uh, very capable of teaching the, the, uh, undergraduate engineering courses that we would need to satisfy the Association of Professional Engineers, Walter Bolansky, uh, who taught us, uh, when we back to, to school to, to get this professional engineering. He thought, uh, strength in materials, uh, d- engineering dynamics and, uh, and advanced strength in materials superbly taught and, uh, uh, very, it was, well...
John E. Turnbull (00:42:09):
What I remember most was, uh, the, the shock of, of facing real engineering after the, uh, after the relative crude brushes with engineering that, that we'd had, uh, prior to 1951. But, uh, several of us went back, uh, at the same time, Ed Brubaker and myself, uh, Hank Bellman. Uh, Keith Clark was already there and, uh, John, uh, John Ogilvie had already gone through the program so it wasn't the brand new program but, uh, was there four of us or five of us?
Ed Brubaker (00:42:44):
John E. Turnbull (00:42:44):
R- Ross Millen, uh, that's right, as well. So there were actually five of us at one time, all at the same point, uh. It was decided, uh, that, uh, to do this thing, uh, right, uh, we would, uh, go for a Master's Degree in, in agricultural, MSA, which would give us a, uh, a research project and, um, some opportunity to do a piece of basic research and, uh, prepare the thesis that would, uh, that would go along with, with that. And, uh, so, uh, with my exposure to the, uh, the, the wood roof truss problem, uh, uh, I decided that a good research project would be to try to develop, uh, a nail connection that would be more tolerant of moist wood that would have the, the high strength, if not the stiffness of a glued joint, but, uh, something that would be asy to build on the farm or in the lumber yard and, uh, and would, uh, would achieve the kind of, uh, high connection strength that would be required.
John E. Turnbull (00:43:52):
Uh, I can't remember who suggested it but, uh, I became aligned with, uh, a, uh, an engineer at Stelco, Steel Company of Canada. And, uh, he offered to make for me a, a set of nails in varying diameters and varying degrees of Rockwell C hardness based on the heat treatment that the nails achieved or were given after they were formed. So I decided that a good approach would be to standardize the thickness of the plywood to correspond to the thickness of the wood which, uh, meant that the nails, in order to get double shear, would be, uh, 2 1/2 inches long to penetrate two half inch plywood gussets, uh, one on either side and the one and a half inch frame member in between. So the, the variables were to be the, uh, the hardness of the nail and the diameter of the nail. They, all the nails would be, uh, stucco, uh, patented, uh, Ardoqs, uh, namely a square, spiral shank that was, uh, the fundamental work already done in this field, uh, by a professor at, uh, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Igor Stern, and I corresponded and, uh, talked to, uh, to Professor Stern as well to make sure that I wasn't going to do something that he was already doing and waste both of our times. He gave me some encouragement to proceed and, uh, so we pr- we designed an experiment to, to test nails.
John E. Turnbull (00:45:38):
But we were surprised to find that, uh, the hardest nail was not the best. It was less effective than, uh, than the medium hard nail which was, uh, the, uh, the, uh, something that we didn't have a ready explanation for. But nevertheless, uh, we did proceed to come up with numbers, engineering numbers, that would give us the design, uh, uh, the design load per nail with Spruce lumber and, uh, and Douglas Fir plywood, uh, nailed on both sides. And, uh, proceeded from there to, uh, to design a series of presses, uh, extending from, say, 24 feet, uh, to, uh, to 50 feet in span, uh, all with four on 12, uh, roof slope. Um, we also expanded into, uh, into, uh, not just the conventional gable triangular truss, but, but single slope trusses because there was some application for, for trusses which could be hung on the side of a barn or trusses which could be, uh, could be supported by a center row of poles or posts, uh, to, to double the span so we could have, say, a 30 foot truss on each side of a, of a row post that would give us a 60 foot building. And, in fact, a lotta buildings, uh, uh, built commercially for, for farm construction, uh, for, for livestock housing now are built on this, on this idea, um, using single slope trusses with center bearing posts.
John E. Turnbull (00:47:18):
Uh, Beaver Lumber, uh, were quite excited about the idea of, of a, uh, truss that they could put together in their, in their shops and sell to farmers and commercial, uh, operations. And as a matter of fact, they did a lotta promotion for us. Uh, I 'member, uh, Jack, uh, Fish who was, uh, s- in sales for Beaver Lumber at that time, uh, did, uh, did some cooperative work with us and, uh, did a lot of promotion of, uh, uh, truss farm construction, uh, using poles and nail joint trusses. Uh, looking back, of course, uh, this was the forerunner of truss construction which is virtually, uh, the standard of, uh, wood construction in, uh, in farms and commercial buildings today. Uh, the only major change is, uh, it was the development of commercial, uh, toothed seal plates that were used instead of our, uh, nails and plywood gussets. And, uh, the commercial truss industry that we have today is, uh, a direct result of, of the promotion of the idea of trusses with inch and a half premium lumber.
John E. Turnbull (00:48:33):
I was also involved, uh, more and more as a, as time proceeded with, uh, the engineering of ventilation systems. Again, uh, due in part to the excellent backgrounding that, uh, that I'd had under Professor Downing's tutelage, both as an undergraduate before 1951 and, uh, and some subsequent work that, that others had done such as my classmate Ross Millen who did a project in, in ventilation design. Hank did a project in, uh, in, uh, in snow control around, uh, windy farm buildings, typically open front barns. And, uh, because there were several of us all, uh, working in the same, uh, same general area but different aspects of it, uh, it was a interesting experience. Uh, Ed, I've even forgotten what your project was but, uh...
Ed Brubaker (00:49:39):
John E. Turnbull (00:49:40):
That's right, that's right. A, a Walter Bolansky project, uh, since he was, uh, developing the, the engineering characteristics of, of greens, flowing over green and other materials and I had forgotten that.
John E. Turnbull (00:49:55):
Anyway, uh, I guess the exposure to, uh, to drainage engineering, uh, was, was wearing a little thin. We were finding, uh, at this time that it was becoming virtually impossible to keep up with the demand, uh, of farmers who wanted, uh, the Department to, to do their drainage surveys. Uh, it was certainly recognized as a valuable service but, uh, too expensive a service to provide free. And, uh, furthermore, we were, we were in fact closing off, uh, any opportunity for professional engineers to, to actually do, uh, drainage engineering work, uh, uh, on farms and it wasn't, uh, the objective of the department to, to do that. So we backed, uh, rather quietly outta drainage engineering, uh, and, uh, the, the engineers, uh, not myself but, uh, others, uh, um, diverted into a program of, uh, of teaching drainage engineering contractors, uh, how to, uh, how to survey, how to do a good job of installing, uh, farm drainage systems and how to provide the farmer with some kind of a, of a, of a plan that would help him find the tile if he ever had trouble and had to do repairs in the, on the drainage system.
John E. Turnbull (00:51:21):
But I have to go back, uh, since I overlooked to mention this. Uh, back to square one, 1952, uh, we had been, uh, we had been working, uh, with, uh, the, a so-called grid system of surveying where, uh, following, uh, Professor Fred Ferguson's, uh, training at, uh, when we were undergraduates at Guelph, he would set out a 100 foot grid on the farm using a bunch of stakes driven into the ground. You, in effect, you made a, a double cross of stakes at exactly 100 foot intervals, uh, on the square, uh, down the center of the farm and across the width of the farm and you sight-lined on these, uh, these rows of stakes to locate where each reading was being taken. And then from that, you went back to gridded paper in the office, platted the elevations of the ground at each 100 foot intervals and then came up with a, with a contour plan of the farm that would, uh, that would give you the basis for engineering the drainage system.
John E. Turnbull (00:52:22):
I recall spending a weekend with, uh, with Hank Bellman down at his father's farm at, uh, uh, Cobart, near Cobart, Bowmanville. And, uh, I had come up with an idea that we could streamline the surveying operation. We had new instruments, uh, from Switzerland that, uh, could accurately measure distance, uh, and angle. Uh, they were still basically survey levels without, uh, without a vertical, uh, vertical access, or without a horizontal access rather. But, uh, but we could measure the distance from a center point to any th- any place on the, within the range of the telescope. And, uh, using this data, we could measure the distance at that point, we could measure the elevation of that point by the reading on the, on the rod man Staff, and we could measure the angle to that point, uh, from a, from a protractor circle that was built into the instrument.
John E. Turnbull (00:53:23):
And we, uh, Hank and I, between us, uh, actually worked out a method to, to lay out a, I guess you'd call it a rectangular traverse around the farm, uh, using the distance to, uh, to the turning points, uh, measured within a, a foot or so by the, by the instrument itself. And by returning to, uh, to the starting point, uh, if the, if the rectangle closed within, uh, three or four feet, uh, you knew the survey was accurate enough for our purpose and this was the final check on the accuracy of your work as well. And, uh, if it didn't close, you had to go back out to the farm, uh, re-do the, uh, re-do the traverse, uh, the horizontal traverse to, to find out where the mistake was made. After a few, uh, few experiments and failures and problems, uh, lost and found, uh, you developed the technique, uh, that was precise enough, uh, that was quite predictable and we could develop very acceptable, uh, contour plans for a farm, uh, for doing this.
John E. Turnbull (00:54:29):
The method offered several advantages. You didn't need as many readings. You didn't have to walk as far, uh, to get a picture of what the farm looked like on paper. Uh, the accuracy of the elevations was better because, uh, because you could send the rod man to the high points and the low points and not have to interpolate and extrapolate in order to get, in order to guess the elevations in between the 100 foot grid points. And as a result, uh, it, it became sorta the standard method that we used from, from then on until, until the development of the laser plane which the, uh, drainage contractors now use as their standard tool.
Ed Brubaker (00:55:18):
John, uh, you were actively involved in the development of the Canadian Farm Building Code for Canada. How did you get started in that? Uh, how did you do it, and where did it lead to?
John E. Turnbull (00:55:31):
Uh, Ed, uh, this was a- again a project, uh, I think, as I recall, it was a, it was, uh, conceived by, by Glen Downing, our, our fearless leader at the University, uh, who, uh, got his head together with, uh, with the, uh, the head of the Division of Building Research at the National Research Council. And I'm not sure who asked the question first but, uh, somebody obviously could see, um, a need for a code that would guide the construction of farm buildings and promote better construction, safer construction, and provide a basis for, for controlling the farm building industry to make it come to a standard that, uh, that would be, uh, better for all concerned.
John E. Turnbull (00:56:29):
In any case, uh, Glen and Dr. Robert Leggett at the NRC, uh, formed a committee. Glen was its Chairman and, uh, Glenn, knowing that people, uh, across Canada who could contribute to, uh, to this, this Code Committee, uh, named 10 or 15 people, uh, that would represent the various aspect of the farm building industry, the, uh, the construction material suppliers, the farm building contractors, uh, the fire departments, and, uh, rural fire departments in particular who had to deal with fires on farms, and the people who were doing research, uh, on, on farm buildings.
John E. Turnbull (00:57:17):
Uh, I was asked to join the, the, uh, the first committee to write a Farm Building Code, um, we met sometime around, in the early 60s, uh, uh, and achieved the writing of the publication of a code through the National Research Council in 1964. Um, I was teamed up with Professor Eric Moisie from, uh, from the University of Saskatchewan, uh, a very capable buildings-oriented engineer, uh, at the University out there.
John E. Turnbull (00:57:53):
And, uh, we were assigned the task of writing, uh, uh, the part of the Farm Building Code that would correspond to use and occupancy components in the National Building Code. In other words, we were to write the requirements for animals and crops and plants in terms of farm buildings. What did animals, seeds, crops, and so on require? And so we wrote the dimensional requirements and, uh, it was, it was crude and rough at first but, uh, it was combined with, uh, with other expertise, uh, uh, electrical, uh, services on farms, uh, construction materials for farm buildings, um, uh, fire safety in farm buildings which, again, Eric Moisie was somewhat of an expert in and became even more so by, by virtue of a string of graduate students who worked with him on various aspects of fire spread in farm building.
John E. Turnbull (00:58:54):
They, they, uh, the Farm Building Code is, is still part of the, uh, National Building Code family. It's gone through, uh, five or six revisions, uh, since that time. It's changed its format completely. It's now, instead of being a, uh, code giving a lot of handbe- handbook information, it is a code of, uh, legal and structural, uh, requirements, uh, pure and simple. And the original handbook material, uh, like how much space a cow or a chicken needs, uh, uh, is, is written into, into an, a companion document, uh, the, The Canadian Farm Building Handbook, which was later produced, uh, can't remember the exact date but, uh, it was produced by Canada Agriculture for whom I worked, uh, at the time, uh, but it was, uh, the actual document itself was put together mostly by, uh, Dr. Jim Monroe, uh, who was one of my staff members at, at Ottawa.
John E. Turnbull (00:59:51):
I think largely because of my exposure to Ottawa people, uh, in the initial stages of, of the writing of the Farm Building Code, um, I was offered a job in, in Ottawa working for the research branch of Agriculture Canada. And, uh, uh, Bill Caulflesh, the, uh, the head of the Ag Engineering, the small Ag engineering group, uh, at the Central Experimental Farm, uh, asked me to, uh, to come and join Federal, Federal staff. Um, it was a new venture for me. It, uh, it looked like an opportunity to, uh, to do a national task and travel nationally and perhaps internationally instead of being restricted to [inaudible].
John E. Turnbull (01:00:44):
So, uh, I went to Ottawa in 1965. Uh, my career took a dramatic, uh, shift away from Extension work but I continued to, uh, to be associated closely with the Provincial Extension engineers and my experience in Ontario, uh, working as one of the Extension engineers, uh, gave me a foot in the door in the, in the, all the other Provinces and I developed very many close friendships with, uh, with other Extension engineers and university, uh, professors, uh, across Canada.
John E. Turnbull (01:01:22):
Uh, I retired from, uh, from, uh, work at Agriculture Canada in, uh, in, uh, 1989, uh, having, uh, I actually Chaired the, uh, the re-writing of the Farm Building Code, uh, for a couple of, uh, cycles and being involved continuously in the Farm Building Code and thereby, the, the National Building Code of Canada as well, uh, through most of my career in Ottawa. And, uh, so I made some contributions to, to the, uh, National Building Code and thereby the Provincial, uh, Farm Building Codes including the Ontario Building Code which is a current document used in this Province.
John E. Turnbull (01:02:05):
Um, rather interesting, some of the, uh, the connections between the Codes for example, uh, the Farm Builders long recognized the fact that a slippery steel roof, uh, would, uh, probably shed snow more readily than a, than an asphalt shingle or, or rough, other rough textured roof. And, uh, one of the things that we initiated into the construction business through the Farm Building Code has been, uh, accepted as, uh, in modified form, uh, as applicable to all buildings but sloping steel roofs, uh, or should I say, slippery roofs because it isn't just steel. It's glass or anything that is, that is smooth and slippery which does have an effect of reducing snow load on, on roofing thereby helping to make all buildings more economical. And the, the little, uh, the little formula that we developed, uh, in cooperation with, with NRC staff in Ottawa is, is applied in modified form to, to all buildings, uh, in, in Canada with the sloping roofs.
John E. Turnbull (01:03:10):
Rather quickly, after I moved to Ottawa, um, the Canada Plan Service, uh, was falling into disrep- uh, disreputability in Provinces other than on- than Ontario largely because the design office and the, most of the staff input, uh, to the Canada Plan Service which had evolved over, over the years, uh, was, was highly oriented toward the Ontario situation and was altogether to, uh, to, it was altogether too easy to forget about the needs of say, prairie Provinces or Western, uh, or British Columbia, or even the Maritimes whose needs for, for farm building drawings, dr- farm building plans, were somewhat different.
John E. Turnbull (01:04:01):
So, uh, a decision was made to move the head office of the Canada Plan Service Design Center from Guelph to Ottawa. Um, one of the draftsman from Guelph actually moved to Ottawa to provide some continuity and, uh, the Canada Plan Service took a new direction in that, not only did it have representation from all the Provinces and, and, and the Yukon, it was more easily possible to marry the ideas of the various Provinces into a common, uh, common range of farm buildings that would more broadly satisfy, uh, the needs of Extension engineers in all Provinces.
John E. Turnbull (01:04:46):
Um, it becomes evident, of course, that, uh, that you can't design, um, a building for every farmer, uh, when you're providing a national service such as the Canada, Canada Farm Building Plan Service as it was first called, or as it was later called, uh, in the mid- '70s, the Canada Plan Service. But, uh, we found that it was practical and possible to develop farm building components, the design for say, trusses, the design for walls, the design for, uh, for systems, the design for, for ventilation and so on, and incorporate the ideas into, uh, into, uh, farm building drawings. And for something structural like a truss for example, we had a, quite a complete set of, uh, of drawings for, for building the nail joint trusses, uh, which were still popular for a long time after the press plate, uh, industry, uh, came into the picture.
John E. Turnbull (01:05:47):
Uh, we also, uh, were able to divide the work into, into a group of committees based on the commodity. For example, we had committees for, uh, swine housing, poultry housing, uh, grain storage, uh, um, uh, dairy cattle, beef cattle, uh, sheep and, uh, fruit and vegetable or fruit and vegetable, uh, controlled environment storage for example. And, uh, here again, the, uh, the fruit and vegetable storage, uh, system, lent itself most, uh, most adaptably to the component system where we developed standard walls and, uh, standard ceiling constructions, uh, and this'll be the stacking point for the local engineer. Uh, uh, usually a specialist in, in fruit and vegetable storage, he would start with that standard design and come up with a, with a relatively, uh, simple, uh, rectangular plan and, uh, and general outline and specs for the, uh, for the builder who was, who was going to build, uh, for the, for the grower, say a, a controlled environment p- potato storage.
John E. Turnbull (01:07:02):
And, uh, several specialists across, uh, across Canada, uh, developed, uh, amongst the, the engineering group, uh, Dennis Darby in, in Alberta for example, who became a, a specialist in, uh, in mostly in potato storage because of the, uh, the big potato industry in the Leftbridge Brooks, uh, area. The, the Ontario specialist, uh, was Keith Clark who, uh, was a member of the Fruit and Vegetable Committee. And, uh, well this is, this is how it was done. Uh, Ed, it didn't happen overnight. Uh, it did associate with, uh, some research that I was able to, uh, to continue at Ottawa. Did quite a bit of work in the design of trusses and the refinement of truss design.
John E. Turnbull (01:07:47):
Uh, another area that, uh, that I was principally involved with was, uh, diaphragm construction. Uh, we started by thinking of the, uh, the plywood ceiling for example in a rectangular farm building as a structural member that [inaudible] to, uh, wind brace the building and keep it from swaying on its, uh, on its pole frame walls. It quickly became apparent that, uh, in some preliminary testing I did at Bridgetown that, uh, it would be better to think of, uh, of using the roofing steel as the, as the diaphragm material. And, uh, we published, uh, several papers, uh, with, with other engineers. Uh, um, cooperating, including some, uh, some, some contract engineering. Word let out to an engineering firm, uh, uh, to actually build some full-scale steel roof diaphragms for us and then testing the structural strength. We did a series of papers published in the, in both Canadian and American engineering, uh, on the, uh, the strength limitations of, uh, roofing steel as a, as a diaphragm to, to wind facing buildings. And of course, the same, the same principle applied to any building that has a, uh, screw fastened roof, uh, it does contribute something to the strength and stiffness of the building, but uh-
Ed Brubaker (01:09:09):
John, I know you have been given several awards, uh, for your many years of work. Can you tell us about them?
John E. Turnbull (01:09:18):
Just very briefly, the, uh, awards that come to mind are the, uh, the Canadian Sheet Steel Building Institute Award for, uh, for design work in the, in the development of farm buildings. That was awarded at the, uh, CSAE during the Annual Meeting in Lethbridge, uh, many years ago. It was the goodwill, I guess, of the people that worked with me and who recommended me to the Association and got that award. Uh, I was a Fellow of the, uh, of the Canadian Society of, of Agricultural Engineers, uh, and, uh, very proud of that. And, uh, never became involved much in the, uh, in the executive positions in the CSAE but, uh, was always actively involved technically in paper or papers at virtually every, uh, annual technical meeting, uh, during my time in Ottawa and before.
John E. Turnbull (01:10:16):
Uh, family-wise, uh, of the three children, uh, two of them are, are engineers, uh, both, uh, associated with the aircraft industry. And, uh, one in Montreal and one in Ottawa. I have, uh, I have two grandsons in, uh, in Montreal and one grandson in, in Ottawa, and the, a granddaughter in Ottawa. Retired, uh, officially in, uh, in 1989, in the fall of 1989 from Agriculture of Canada. Um, I'm subsequently, uh, living in Walkerton and, uh, working in, uh, part-time association with Argue and Associates, uh, now renamed, uh, since Argue has s- sold his business to, to Burnside, uh, to Argue Burnside. And, uh, actually since I retired, I've been involved in short-term projects, um, some of them associated with, uh, with interpretations or, or applications of the Farm Building Code because of my obvious experience and expertise in that area. Um, the engineering firm, uh, consults with me when it comes to an interpretation of the, uh, the Code or working for clients who are having trouble with, uh, with arbitrary application of the Farm Building Code, uh, or misapplication of it. And, uh, some structural work as well, uh, civil engineering work, uh, of the rather standard nature. Typically, with, with respect to wood construction because that's where my expertise lies.
John E. Turnbull (01:12:08):
Uh, incidentally, uh, did not mention that, uh, one of the fields that I got into as a direct result of my research in, in, in wood farm building construction is, uh, active participation in the, uh, in the preparation of the Code for Engineering Design in Wood which is a CSA Code. And I very much enjoy the association with the, uh, the code writers, uh, who have prepared, uh, several issues of the, uh, of the, of the Wood Code for Canada, CSA 086.
John E. Turnbull (01:12:49):
In my retirement, I've, uh, done a lot of traveling. Um, my, my current wife and partner, uh, is a, is a lover of travel as well and we've visited, uh, South America, Africa twice, uh, uh, India, Nepal. And, uh, going back to Africa as a matter of fact in, uh, in the spring of 2003 for a, for a month in South Africa. Certainly look forward to that.
Ed Brubaker (01:13:26):
John E. Turnbull (01:13:29):
Oh, highlights. I guess, I guess one highlight would be, uh, not quite making it, but attempting to climb, uh, Mount Kilimanjaro. Uh, uh, we got, uh, with, uh, with a group, largely of Australians. We got, uh, personally, uh, we got to about 17,000 feet of altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro which tops out at 19,430 feet I think it is to be somewhat precise. So we didn't make it to the top but there was, it was an outstanding ex- outstanding experience. Another outstanding one was, uh, was doing the, the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, uh, back in 19, uh, 98. That was probably the first of our, of our serious treks and, uh, certainly the one that got us started in this, in this kind of recreational activity. Nepal and India were, were something superb, too. Uh, we spent a month, uh, divided between those two countries. Again, uh, largely trekking with Australians and, uh, uh, it was, it was a superb experience.
Ed Brubaker (01:14:40):
Hey, John, uh, let's just wind this up, uh, with your thoughts on really what the OAC or college meant to you in your personal life, in your professional life, and even today.
John E. Turnbull (01:14:57):
I think, uh, the broadening experience of a, of a college education, uh, well I know it has had a profound effect on, on my life. Not only because it presented an opportunity for, for career development, but because it, it opened, uh, the mind to, uh, to a variety of fields that, uh, that as a, as a young student, I would know very little about. I've already mentioned the, uh, the influence of a professor in, in zoology and, uh, and the courses in, in biology that, uh, that introduced us to, uh, to, you know, the science of genetics and, uh, and evolution and, uh, things like that. Um, one tends to think of a college career as, as being, uh, oriented toward, uh, toward, toward life work. But it's, it's much broader than life work. It's, it's life experience and, uh, I know that the, the broadening experience of, of living with and studying with a, a, a group of new strangers who quickly become friends, uh, certainly contributes to an ability to, uh, to go out in the world and, and meet people of various races in various countries, whether they, whether or not you can speak the language. And, uh, feel at home with them and, uh, and appreciate that their religion, their lifestyle, eh, and everything about them is, is unique and interesting and fascinating and in the least bit repulsive.
Ed Brubaker (01:16:40):
Thank you very much, John. Uh, you've had an interesting, productive career that you have enjoyed.
John E. Turnbull (01:16:49):
Ed Brubaker (01:16:49):
Yeah, I can see that. And, uh, I, uh, just wanna conclude this by saying, this has been an interview with John Turnbull on November 14th, in the home of Ed Brubaker in Guelph and, um, for the Alumni in Action Committee, the Oral History Committee.