50 Years, 50 People: David Johnston

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David Johnston first started with Paddle Canada (then still under the name Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association) in 1998 as an employee. At the time, we owned a building in Merrickville, Ontario where we offered programs on-site, and David was hired as the Program Coordinator. He held this position for four years, leaving the position as the organization went through a rebirth.

Shortly after that, he joined the Sea Kayak Development Program Committee (SKPDC), where he served for almost 10 years, many of them as the Chair. He, along with Tony Palmer created the Program Coordination Committee (PCC) which created a strong link between all disciplines and helped develop policy and program requirements across all Paddle Canada programs.

Two other major accomplishments that David was involved with were the rewriting of our National Sea Kayak Program (a four-year-long project!) and the development of the Camping Program.

“This is one that I’m particularly proud of as we purposely choose to think way out of the box. We wanted to develop a camping skills program with various levels that could be taught either as a stand-alone level or combined with any other paddling level and combined to offer camping skills along with boat or board handling skills. This project took 6 years of development from idea to published manual.”

Although “retired” from the SKPDC and the PCC, David continues to volunteer his time for a variety of Paddle Canada projects. His “day job” sees him behind a computer as a web editor, and this expertise has been put to use at Paddle Canada; he advises on all things website-related, has developed and designed our website, was the brain behind the new Paddling School Directory and generally assists head office with random questions.

Currently, David is living in Peterborough, ON, still working behind a desk for the Ontario Government. When he can put away from his screen, you’ll find him teaching intermediate and advanced sea kayak courses for 3-4 paddling schools across Ontario. Or exploring Lake Superior by sea kayak and tent, often guiding others.

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