Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, C.C.Photo credit: Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall
© Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (2010)
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, all while raising her five daughters. 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 5 daughters became fluently bilingual. Now, as adults and professionals, they speak many other languages.
While in Montréal, Her Excellency 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. Sixty-five acres were dedicated to crops, and maple syrup was tapped annually from Chatterbox trees, thanks to Mennonite neighbours.
Her Excellency also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal, and has a novel in progress, begun during the postgraduate program for writers at Humber College. The novel is a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during a colourful, post-Great War era, based on her grandmother’s experiences.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnston were both raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. They have lived in Kingston, Toronto, and London, Ontario; in Cambridge, England; in Montréal, Quebec; in Waterloo, Ontario; and now in Ottawa.
The spouse of the governor general plays a tangible role in fulfilling the governor general’s mandate by taking part in official ceremonies and national celebrations, such as the opening of Parliament, Order of Canada investiture ceremonies, Canada Day events, the reception of foreign dignitaries and the governor general’s visits at home and abroad. The spouse of the governor general is designated His or Her Excellency while in office. In addition, the spouse is granted membership in the Order of Canada at the level of Companion, and is designated a knight or dame of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.