Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, C.C.Photo credit: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall
© Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (2014)
Sharon Johnston graduated from the University of Toronto in 1966 as a physical and occupational therapist, and subsequently worked in the area of child psychiatry. When the Johnston family moved to Montréal, she completed her master’s and doctorate degrees in rehabilitation science. At the master’s level, she studied a more effective way of clearing the small airways of cystic fibrosis sufferers. Her doctoral thesis examined the coordination of respiratory muscles during normal speech, stuttered speech and singing. Her thesis resulted in the publication of scientific articles on respiratory mechanics.
During the 20 years the family lived in Montréal, Mrs. Johnston ensured their five daughters became fluently bilingual. Now, as adults and professionals, they speak many other languages.
While in Montréal, she volunteered her time on many administrative boards, including the Collège Marie de France, in Montréal, and Bishop’s College School, in Lennoxville, Quebec. She was also a founding member of the Friends of the Neuro volunteer group at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital.
In 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston moved from Montréal to Waterloo, Ontario. While Mr. Johnston was occupied running the University of Waterloo, Mrs. Johnston began an entirely new life at a hundred-acre farm and small horse-boarding business called Chatterbox Farm, which she managed for 12 years.
Farming and horses were entirely new to her, but suddenly this new adventure became a true passion. From its modest beginnings, Chatterbox Farm was a very successful horse-training centre in classical dressage.
Mrs. Johnston also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal, and recently published her first novel Matrons and Madams. The novel is 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 appointed Honorary Captain (Navy) for Military Personnel Command of the Canadian Armed Forces for her work in supporting military families and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness.