Mel and Ruth Turnbull

Mel Turnbull was born at the Fred Turnbull farm near Hartney, MB, in 1909. Mel’s grandfather William and great uncle Albert from Bewdley, ON, had been among the first pioneers to travel to the area in 1881– taking up newly-surveyed land south of what was to become the town of Hartney. In 1882, they were joined by William’s wife Bessie and their children Fred (Mel’s father), Effie and Ada. William’s other siblings would follow in the coming years. After constructing a new wooden house in 1885, William and Bessie had two more children, Ruby and Roland, born in 1887.

Fred Turnbull married Martha Mann in 1899 and settled on a farm near the original homestead. Their third child and only son Mel was born in 1909, after which the family bought a house in Brandon, as did most of the Turnbull families, to take advantage of the schools and the Brandon Baptist College (which became Brandon College in 1899 and Brandon University in 1967). They retained the Hartney farm and returned there each summer.

Ruth Guthrie was born in 1918 in Winnipeg, MB, after her parents had emigrated from Scotland in the early 1900s. She grew up in St. Vital with her older siblings Marjorie and Bob. Ruth was educated in Winnipeg, took violin and art lessons, and canoed on Manitoba’s rivers and lakes. She attended Business College in Winnipeg, taking on increasingly responsible secretarial positions in Winnipeg until her marriage in 1955.

Ruth and Mel met when Ruth was visiting her long-time friend, Edna Hodgson, her husband Bob and their daughters. Mel lived on a nearby farm and had known Bob for many years. Ruth and Mel were introduced during Ruth’s visit and eventually married, living in the original Fred Turnbull house at the Hartney farm.

Ruth and Mel travelled extensively and spent winters in Florida but they remained active in Hartney with church activities, golfing, curling, square dancing, and visiting lifelong friends – especially Edna and Bob Hodgson. Mel and Ruth retired to Brandon in the 1980s where Mel’s sisters lived.

Recalling the times when funds for further education were not readily available, Mel and Ruth decided to provide funding for bursaries and scholarships to assist students from Hartney and area. Naming Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College as recipients of the endowments was also their way of giving back to communities where they had lived.

Mel passed away in 1996, and Ruth in 2013.