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A Real Companion and Friend:
The diary of William Lyon Mackenzie King

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Behind the Diary

A King's Who's Who Biographies

Walter James Turnbull (1896-1987)

Walter James Turnbull, ca. 1945-1957


Walter James Turnbull, ca. 1945-1957

Walter Turnbull worked in the Post Office, in the area of public relations. In the late 1930s, he was seconded to the Prime Minister's staff. During the Royal Tour of 1939, he served as liaison between the Royal Train and the press train. He was King's Private Secretary from 1940 to 1945, administering the office and arranging appointments for King.

Walter Turnbull was born in Oxford Mills, Ontario. At age 19 he joined the Post Office, where he worked in the area of public relations. In the late 1930s, he was seconded to work on the Prime Minister's staff. King was impressed by his work. "Called in Turnbull who had been working steadily all day, told him I had appreciated the way he had worked throughout the year, and had decided to take him along on the Royal Train during ... the King's visit. He was quite pleased...." (Diary, April 6, 1939) During the royal tour, Turnbull served as liaison between the press train and the royal train.

He became King's Principal Secretary in 1940 and held this position through the war years. He administered the office and arranged appointments for King. He went with King to the conference in Quebec City, where Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt met in August 1943. King's diary contains many references to Turnbull working with him.

In 1945, Turnbull was appointed Deputy Postmaster General.

Library and Archives Canada holds the Walter J. Turnbull Papers (MG30-E543).