Van Turken looking for coffee last year. Photo by Marguerite Boyer

At the council meeting last Monday, council proclaimed the second Saturday of February as Van Turken Day in North Grenville, to celebrate how the rogue bird brought the community together. Van Turken brought the Municipality national media attention and even gave Mayor Nancy Peckford a platform to promote the expansion of County Road 43. “We believe Van Turken came to our municipality to really shed light on how important it is to upgrade our major thoroughfare, and we hope that the federal government is listening loud on clear,” Mayor Peckford told CTV News.

Mr. Van Turken was first spotted on Van Buren Street this winter before he made his way to the busy thoroughfare of County Road 43, making a visit to the Municipal Centre, as well as many local businesses. People were keen to share Van Turken sightings on the Facebook page created by local resident Lisa Brownrigg, which has grown to over 2,000 members.

Before Mr. Van Turken was captured by authorities last week, we caught up with him to ask why he came to North Grenville and how he feels about all the attention he received from the North Grenville community.

NG Times: Why did you decide to leave your flock and venture out on your own?

Mr. Van Turken: It all happened quite quickly. We do usually stay in flocks, but I am quite independent and curious. I wandered off to investigate the delicious smells coming from Fat Les’s Chip Stand and before I knew it the others were gone.

NG Times: Why did you decide to head towards County Road 43?

Mr. Van Turken: Even though there are some great businesses along Van Buren Street, there wasn’t much going on in that part of town. I was on my own, so I figured I should explore the Municipality while I had the chance.

NG Times: There is a video that was circulated online of you chasing one of our municipal workers at the North Grenville Municipal Centre last week. What drove you to chase her around the parking lot in a snow storm?

Mr. Van Turken: Oh! I didn’t even know that had been filmed! In my travels, I learned that they were looking for a new CAO and I had enjoyed my time in North Grenville so much I thought I would ask about applying.

NG Times: How do you feel about turning into a local celebrity? People have created mugs and coffee sleeves with your name on them!

Mr. Van Turken: I am thrilled that the locals have taken me under their wing. I was honestly just interested in exploring North Grenville, and the welcome that I received has been overwhelming. I was a bit surprised to hear that people thought I was a girl, but I understand, as we look very similar from afar.

NG Times: It’s clear that locals have enjoyed having you around, but it’s not safe for a turkey on our busy streets. Local authorities have tried to catch you and direct you to a safer place. Why have you been running from them?

Mr. Van Turken: As I said, I am an independent bird and I can be very stubborn. I wasn’t ready to stop exploring North Grenville, and I wasn’t sure about the motives of the people chasing me. I have heard that humans enjoy eating turkey at certain times of the year. I would rather be a fugitive than end up on someone’s dinner table.

NG Times: You have been given credit for putting North Grenville on the map. How do you feel about that?

Mr. Van Turken: I have enjoyed my time in North Grenville, and am happy to help promote the municipality in any way I can. They need to do something about that busy road though. It’s not safe for anyone. Especially turkeys!


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