Joan Johnston

Obituary of Joan M. Johnston


It is with deep sadness that our family announces Joan’s passing on Thursday, March 3, 2022.


Joan’s great joys were her family: daughter, Elizabeth, son-in-law, Connor, and their cherished dog, Palmer; her sister, Lois; nephews, Brian (Jackie), Kevin (Monique), Paul (Cheryl), and Doug (Sue); and her beloved great-nieces and nephews; also her love of kitchen bridge, her treasured escape in Muskoka and all the memories shared there, her connections through Innet, her love of music, and her wonderful network of good friends. 


Born in Sudbury to parents, Frances and Joseph Harrison, Joan excelled in music, and began regular trips to Toronto at a young age to study piano and organ at St. Michael’s Choir School and The Royal Conservatory of Music. After completing her musical programs and earning her ARCT she also graduated from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto with a BA and degree in Business Administration from Rotman. While at UofT she met and fell in love with Richard T. Johnston (deceased 1993) and they were married in 1971. They later welcomed daughter, Elizabeth, who remained Joan’s loyal student, travel companion, debate partner, fashion advisee, and friend throughout her life.


Joan’s impressive career spanned work as a VP with Young & Rubicam, a Corporate Manager at BMO, and a Principal at Ernst and Young before she started her own firm, J.M. Johnston & Associates. Throughout her career she was focused on education and research, and this focus was clear in her work with her clients, as well as her work outside of consulting.


Joan was the President of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, and received the Arbor award for her work. She was so happy to spend six years as a Board Member and Chair of the Board at Sheridan College. She had recently joined the Board of Governors at UofT where she enjoyed working with educators, researchers, and students alike.


Joan has been described by friends and acquaintances alike as a ‘Force’ and she was exactly that. Whether in a meeting with the President of a company or university, or over a glass of wine and hand of bridge, she expected nothing less than the height of your intelligence and would challenge you to meet hers.  A conversation with Joan would often lead to discussions of politics, history, literature, theology, a new art exhibit or a myriad of other topics that would leave one with the desire to go home, do more research, and return to continue the discussion.  Many will not be surprised to know that she gave strict instructions as to what this obituary was to include, and what it was not; note that she wanted her ‘refusal to state her age’ included (a mystery she guarded her whole life and took pleasure in continuing). She was a champion for education. A fiercely loyal friend. A lover of nature. A brilliant mind. And the best mother in the world.


Joan also wished to thank the incredible team of doctors and healthcare workers at Princess Margaret Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Knox, as well as the phenomenal palliative care team through Mount Sinai.


The family will receive friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville) from 2:00 – 4:00 and 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11th.  A funeral service will take place in the chapel on Saturday, March 12th at 2:00 p.m.  At the request of Joan’s family, proof of vaccination is required, and masks are to be worn.


If desired, donations may be made to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in Joan’s memory. Condolences may be forwarded through


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