Jack Nellis Turvey was born in Harris, Saskatchewan, on February 12, 1911, but moved to Vancouver after the death of his father. As a smallish child unwilling to give any quarter, he grew up as something of a fighter, a trait he carried with him throughout his business career. He frequently scrapped with business and union leaders and politicians in later life, usually trying to preserve or grow one of the many business interests he developed in western Canada.
He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1934 with a BA in economics, and spent most of his early business career working as an accountant, although he never obtained formal training or certification in this area. After working at a number of west coast businesses through the 1930s and early 1940s, he joined Marwell Construction in 1949, where in 1955 he acquired many of the contacts and expertise he would draw on for much of his career.
While working for Marwell, he met Bill Sharp, and with Sharp’s help he became the first Secretary-Treasurer of IPSCO in 1956 and stayed with that company for much of the rest of his career, retiring as chairman of the corporation in 1981. As IPSCO’s leader, he made a major contribution to the eventual success of that company and is best known in Canadian business history in this regard.
However, in addition to his career at IPSCO, Turvey also contributed greatly to the development of industry in western Canada through his ownership of such enterprises as Western Construction, Estevan Brick, and Pe Ben Industries Ltd. He eventually retired to Vancouver, where he died on July 17, 1990.
John Comrie, Roger Phillips