Born in Edmonton, Alberta, John Robert Davenall Turner was a Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) medallist in 1960, and received a RAIC scholarship to travel to Europe to study post-war housing. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in 1965, and became a registered member of the Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA) that same year. Turner worked with: Engineering Consultants, St. John, New Brunswick (1960–1961); G. Keith Pickard, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (1961); and, Smith Carter Searle Associates, Winnipeg (1962). In 1962, Turner joined Green Blankstein Russell and Associates. Later, he served as president of the MAA.