The Honourable Dr. George & Doris Johnson

Johnson Blondel

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Johnson, The Honourable Dr. George & Doris

The Honourable Dr. George Johnson, O.C., MD, LL.D., Manitoba's 20th Lieutenant Governor, was born in Winnipeg on November 18, 1920, the eldest son of Jónas and Laufey Johnson. Raised and educated in Winnipeg, he also spent many summers at Borg, his grandparents' homestead in the Ísafold (Howardville) district north of Riverton, and he retained fond memories of those formative years all his life. At age 21, George enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy, becoming a navigation specialist, and he served on the North Atlantic until the war's end in 1945, attaining the rank of Lieutenant. In recognition of this service, he was appointed Honourary Captain of HMSC Chippawa in Winnipeg in 1988.

In 1943 George married Doris Marjorie Blöndal of Winnipeg, the daughter of Dr. Ágúst Blöndal, the son of Icelandic immigrants Björn and Björg Blöndal, and his wife, Guðrún Stefánsson, the daughter of Stefán Pétursson and Geirþruiður Jónsdóttir, pioneers in the Brú district of the Argyle Settlement of Manitoba.

After graduating from the University of Manitoba medical school in 1950, Dr. Johnson began a medical practice at Gimli, where he and Doris lived and raised their family until 1958. George was then elected MLA for Gimli Constituency, and as Minister of Health and Public Welfare, Education, and Health respectively, he became one of the leading political reformers of his generation. In these roles, he was instrumental in the implementation of Medicare in Manitoba, the creation of Red River Community College, and the establishment of the Universities of Winnipeg and Brandon.

Upon retiring from politics in 1969, Dr. Johnson practiced medicine in Winnipeg until 1978, then served as Senior Medical Consultant to the Government of Manitoba. In 1986 he was appointed Manitoba's 20th Lieutenant Governor, the first person of Icelandic descent so honoured; subsequently he was the recipient of many other outstanding honours. Named a Certificant, Fellow, and life Member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, the Manitoba Medical Society , and the Manitoba Teachers' Society. Dr. Johnson was also awarded Honourary Doctor of Laws degrees by the Universities of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Royal Roads Military College.


In 1967 a new elementary school at Gimli was named in his honour, and in 1994 he was awarded the Order of the Falcon (Commander with Star) by the Government of Iceland and made an Officer of the Order of Canada. As Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, he was also granted an official coat of arms. Above all, he is recognized and remembered by the many who knew him as a man of extraordinary kindness and generosity. The Hon. George Johnson passed away at Gimli at age 74, on July 8, 1995.

The fifth and sixth Canadian generations of the Johnson family, though they retain strong ties with Manitoba and Gimli, now live from coast to coast in Canada and in Europe. The children of George and Doris Johnson have distinguished themselves in politics, business, the arts, medicine, and through active involvement with charitable organizations.

The family of George and Doris Johnson:

1. The Honourable Janis Guðrún Johnson, BA, Member of the Senate of Canada for the Province of Manitoba (her son: Tómas Stefán Johnson Moores, BA, MA.

2. Jennifer Ann Johnson, BA, MA, psychologist, Victoria, BC, married Martin Glassman.

3. Daniel George Johnson, BSc. Ed., Winnipeg, teacher, founder and former Executive Director of Manitoba Special Olympics, married Leona Hnatyshyn (their daughters: Stefanie, Sarah, and Kristine).

4. Jón Blöndal Johnson, BA, MA, PhD (London School of Economics), founder and former Chairman of GPC Government Policy Consultants and GRC International, currently Chairman. Nordic Group. Toronto. married Susan Margaret Brousseau.

5. Dr. JoAnn Margrét Johnson, BSc, MD, FRCS, and her husband, Dr. Patrick Hanly, Toronto (their children: Aidan, Eizabeth, Kathrine, Ciara).

6. Gillian Kristin Johnson, BA, MA, author and illustrator, London, England, and her husband, Nicholas Shakespeare, author and literary critic (their son: Maximillian).