Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John J. T. “Jack” Johnstone (1921-2007)

Social worker, cleric, pilot.

Born at Northumberland, England on 25 February 1921, he grew up in a small coal mining community and was active in sports and the Boy Scout organization. In 1941 at the age of 18, he volunteered for service as air crew in the Royal Air Force. After training in England, Canada and the United States, he flew on war time operations in Europe and South East Asia and was stationed in Rangoon, Burma when the war ended. After returning to England, he took social work training in London and worked for several years in the Dr. Bernardo’s Children’s Organization. Part of that time was spent working with delinquent youths in the East End of London.

In 1953, he came to Canada to take theological training at Emmanuel College in Saskatoon. While there, he worked part time with the Children’s Aid Society of Saskatoon. He was ordained in the Anglican Church in 1958 and worked for nine years on Indian Reserves in Saskatchewan. While working with Aboriginal people, he made a study of Native customs and language and spoke the Cree language fluently. In 1965, they moved to Winnipeg where he worked as executive director of a treatment centre for troubled youths. Throughout this period he served as an honorary assistant priest in various city churches. In 1981, he was appointed Rector of the Parish of All Saints where he served until 1989. In 1990, he was appointed Priest in Charge of St. John’s Cathedral. His last full time position was as Priest in Charge of St Andrew’s in Woodhaven. Throughout his ministry, he often flew into remote northern communities to perform services.

In 1979, he was inducted into the Order of Canada for his work with disadvantaged youth and he received the City of Winnipeg Community Service Award for his role in organizing several Commonwealth Wartime Aircrew reunions. He was past president of the Wartime Pilots and Observers Association and also a member of the Hump Pilot’s Association.

He died on 17 August 2007.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 21 August 2007.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 August 2016

Memorable Manitobans

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