The 1975 Canada Winter Games in Lethbridge were the first for Johnson, but certainly not his last. Don Johnson was seen as an amateur sport leader across Canada for his leadership and strength in the Canada Games movement and his belief in the Games as a major opportunity for nation-building.
Over the span of 20 years, Don Johnson was seen as one of the most influential people on the Interprovincial Sport and Recreation Council. His connection to the council was formed over the years he served as Assistant Deputy Minister of Recreation for the Province of Newfoundland. Here, he was given the opportunity to have his, and Newfoundland’s, voice heard about the importance of sport and recreation in Canada, with a major emphasis on the Canada Games.
After the 1975 Canada Winter Games in Lethbridge, he remained involved for the next nine Games, spanning some 16 years. While Johnson was involved with the Council, he acted as Newfoundland’s representative, Council member, member of the site evaluation committee, member of the technical committee, and member of the jury. Most times, he held at least three positions at once.
While involved, the Canada Games Council created two awards and symbols, which Don played a leading role in creating: The Jack Pelech Award and the Roly McLenahan Torch. It was also during his time with the Council that it saw several major improvements take place, including more involvement of female sports and athletes, making coaching certification mandatory, drug testing, and the addition of culture events.
Don Johnson was seen as an amateur sport leader across Canada for his leadership and strength in the Canada Games movement. He, along with the others honoured tonight, were instrumental in guiding the growth and sophistication of the Canada Games – from its “good idea” stage through its growth phase.
Don is inducted as a proud Canada Games ambassador. Bob Secord, Roly McLenahan, Bill Clarke and Don Johnson were leaders who helped develop and push the Canada Games through a 16 year period of growth which saw the Games reach the point it is today - a major athlete development event on the Canadian sport scene.