The Right Honourable David Johnston and Mrs. Sharon Johnston receive the Key to the City

April 18, 2018
Announcements and Events

This evening, Mayor Jim Watson presented the Key to the City to The Right Honourable David Johnston and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, at a ceremony at City Hall.

The Right Honourable David Johnston was recognized for an unwavering commitment to education, learning and innovation, youth, philanthropy and volunteerism, with the distinct honour of serving as Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017.

Mrs. Sharon Johnston was recognized for an illustrious career in rehabilitation science with a steadfast commitment to mental health and wellness advocacy, and her dedication to supporting Indigenous youth and families.

During their time in Ottawa, the Johnstons encouraged all Canadians to join in the building of a smarter, more caring nation.

Quotes

“It is an honour to present the City’s highest award to the Right Honourable David Johnston and Mrs. Sharon Johnston. Both have dedicated their lives to helping others and have encouraged their fellow Canadians to do the same. Their contributions through volunteering, advocacy, philanthropy and leadership have had a profound impact on Ottawa and we are a better city for it.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

Key Facts
The Key to the City

  • The Key to the City is Ottawa’s most prestigious award.
  • An ornamental key is presented to esteemed residents, visitors and others whom the City of Ottawa wishes to honour. This practice has a symbolic meaning evoking medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night. The key symbolizes the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.
  • Some former recipients include:
    • Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (now, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
    • Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
    • Author Margaret Atwood
    • Photographers Yousuf and Malak KarshThe Community Foundation of Ottawa
    • Actress Sandra Oh
    • Ottawa Senators former Captain Daniel Alfredsson
    • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada
    • Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek
    • TV and radio news journalist, Michel Picard

Bios

The Right Honourable David Johnston

David Johnston was born in Copper Cliff, near Sudbury, Ontario on June 28, 1941, the son of Dorothy Stonehouse and Lloyd Johnston, the retail manager of a local hardware store.

Mr. Johnston attended Harvard University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963, twice being selected to the All American hockey team on his way to being named to Harvard’s athletic hall of fame. He later obtained Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of Cambridge and Queen’s University.

Mr. Johnston’s professional career began in 1966 as assistant professor in the Queen’s University law faculty. He moved on to the University of Toronto’s law faculty in 1968, and became dean of Western University’s law faculty in 1974. He was named principal and vice chancellor of McGill University in 1979, serving for fifteen years before returning to teaching as a fulltime professor in the McGill Faculty of Law.

In June 1999, he became the fifth president and vice chancellor of the University of Waterloo, serving until 2010. He is married to Sharon Johnston, with whom he has five daughters. They are grandparents to 14 grandchildren.

When David Johnston became governor general, he called upon all Canadians to join in the building of a smarter, more caring nation. His seven year viceregal mandate—the third longest in Canadian history— was characterized by inclusiveness, dedication, energy and ambition in quest of a smarter, more caring Canada and a better world.

David Johnston was the 28th governor general of Canada, from October 1, 2010, to October 2, 2017.

Mrs. Sharon Johnston

Sharon Johnston began her working career in Kingston, Ontario, as a psychiatric occupational therapist with young adults at Kingston General Hospital, and then as a therapist at Beechgrove, a treatment centre for young children with learning and behavioural problems. When the Johnston family moved to Toronto, she worked at the Crippled Children’s Centre in Occupational Therapy.

In 1966, Mrs. Johnston completed her studies in physical and occupational therapy at the University of Toronto. Later, she completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Science degree at McGill University, and obtained her Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science at McGill University. She also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal.

Mrs. Johnston is an avid horse-riding enthusiast. She ran a horse-training centre for 12 years out of Chatterbox Farm, in Ontario, which she shared with her husband. She published her first novel Matrons and Madams, a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during a colourful, post-Great War era, based on her grandmother’s experiences. In June 2016, Mrs. Johnston was appointment Honorary Captain (Navy) for Military Personnel Command of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Mrs. Johnston was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She and Mr. Johnston have five adult daughters and 14 grandchildren.

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